Cosmos Café [1/22] - "Anger and the Road to Hell," a selection from Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate by Mark Jabbour

“Anger and the Road to Hell,” a selection from Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate by Mark Jabbour

A discussion led by Mark Jabbour and sparked by a reading from his most recent book Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate. The Café crew had good intentions for a vibrant discussion, paving a path out of the current American hellishness.

Doug Duff
Michael Stumpf
Ed Mahood
Mark Jabbour

Recorded: 22 Jan 2019


The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realized that you control your own destiny.
Thinking rationally is often different from “positive thinking,” in that it is a realistic assessment of the situation, with a view towards rectifying the problem if possible.
—Albert Ellis

Join us as we go to hell in a handbasket with our basketcase country in tow, as depicted by resident creative writer Mark Jabbour. This conversation, sure to go down in history as a great debate, will revolve around the great divide of an angry country, or the anger than divides a great country.

Reading / Watching / Listening

@Mark_Jabbour has selected a chapter of his book called “Anger and the Road to Hell, May 23, 2016”

Anger.pdf (73.7 KB)

Seed Questions

  • Anger, contrary to what many say, is not a primary emotion, but a secondary emotion. Recall, or meditate on the point/time in your personal history that you were your most angry. What was the root it? [Share or not. This is not a substitute for therapy.]
  • Share, or not, an event, personal or general, that demonstrates ‘the road to hell …’
  • In general, what do you think the function of emotion is? i.e. why do they exist? and how stable are they historically? Are there new ones?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Agenda items

Purchase, read, review the book. Enjoin The Great Debate. Bridge The Great Divide.

About the book


Election 2016: The Great Divide, The Great Debate is a collection of essays written in real time, reacting to and predicting the emergence of Donald J. Trump as a viable then winning candidate—interrupted periodically by fictional analysis from the author and fictional characters, demonstrating the psychological aspects of the campaign regarding the American psyche. In addition, there are fictional futuristic happenings and speculations about what could happen. There are a number of footnotes, some cite sources, some are explanatory, and some are updates of relevant subject matter. Taken as a whole, it a story about an unprecedented event in American and world history.

From the preface of Election 2016:

The great divide seems only to have widened, now fourteen months plus into the Trump administration. There is no bridge, no coming together, and certainly no evolved consciousness. Instead, we (Americans) seem to be on the brink of another civil war, another war between the states. The electorate now appears to be sorting itself out geographically. The internet, specifically the social media, looks to have, rather than connecting people in friendly ways, augmented and exacerbated their differences to the point of not only hostile speech but behavior as well. This election, more so than any other event since that war, begs this question: Who are we? Obviously, that question wasn’t settled then, and remains open today.


I suggest that (if you can’t wait for the new year) before you read the chapter, you read Imogene’s article as an introduction to the chapter. That would not be the case were you to start reading at the beginning of the book for it all weaves together in book form as presented, but chapter by chapter (which it can be read that way also) the subject(s) present differently. I’ll have more to say and add later. In the meantime, have a great time, however it is you choose to celebrate (and I hope you do.)


Just saying, if any one wants to engage:


OK, my humble offerings:

There’s a bit more of what could be expected:

but there’s also a bit otherwise:


yeahyeahyeah - good thing we’ve four weeks, b/c this rabbit hole has great potential …

1 Like

I’ve added seed questions, agenda items, the full Preface to the book, and a link to the paper about "concept creep’ by Nick Haslan referenced in the book on page 118 regarding the operational definition (mine) of Love - a primary emotion. It is in the chapter titled “Boundaries”. We’ve talked a lot about words and language and communication - Concept Creep, I think, has created much to the general anger evident in our society today.
I wanted to link a paper by David M. Buss on the evolutionary basis for happiness and how our society today undermines that, but was unsuccessful. you can google it and maybe find it. I may, or may not, keep updating as we move toward January 22, earth time.

1 Like

Willie Nelson, w/r/t Time: Phases and Stages / Pick Up the Tempo / Phases and Stages (Theme) - YouTube

1 Like

Hey @Mark_Jabbour & @Douggins: I am posting my regrets in advance because I am not going to make this talk. I had previously signed up for a school field trip w/ my older daughter. While you are hopefully having a radically civil and evolutionary conversation on these timely issues, I will be at the Colorado Symphony, enjoying the musical fruits of some good old 18th-19th-century Western Civ.

One thing I’ll just put out there: as a Café audience member, I would love to hear some other voices on these issues, in response to Mark. For example, @care_save wrote a whole collection of essays—the “Trumpocalypse” series—which Jabbour read and gave feedback on while it was still being written. (I conveyed this feedback to Caroline but to my shame, or in my editorial wisdom, did not share it directly while the pieces were still coming together.) I also wonder if @KPr2204 might like to chime in…

What would it take to get to the root(s) of the conflicts we are witnessing in the country and wider world? What greater wisdom is waiting to be birthed through the meeting of these disparate minds? This could be one of the great Cafés: can you keep it radically civil and mix it up at the same time?

@Eduardo_Rocha’s (yet unanswered) post from a couple months ago could also be a dynamic reference point, as Brazil has very recently elected a very similar kind of figure to Trump in Jair Bolsonaro: Questions on The State and public and private administration.

I’ll look forward to the recording and any follow up. Trumpocalypse Now?


Yes, my friend. Your copy of my book, signed, is still sitting on a table in my apartment, wrapped in pretty paper. And yet, I think I understand why we haven’t met and exchanged gifts. It is a f — complicated world. I wish for you all that you desire, and am grateful for our meeting. Cheers.

1 Like

Cool, man. Let’s do our own café in person sometime after this one. I got your promotional postcard, btw. Direct marketing: smart. You are learning from your hero.

1 Like

I think this chapter, “Anger and the road to hell” follows neatly the last Cafe’s question regarding the root of psychic conflict. It could be that natural selection in all its “wisdom”, or good intention, created (evolved) with the consciousness of modern man the bane to mankind’s existence, i.e. the road to hell. It remains to be seen if “we” can figure a way out of the fix were in. Is the @ccafe , our conflicting thoughts and ideas and civil discourse, the point of the spear? The beginning of the solution? I look forward to Tuesday’s chat. cheers mates.


'Twas a good discussion, gentlemen; once again, thank you.

Since our chat, however, I have been mulling, and as I’ve come to something of an impasse, I wanted to see if anyone else had any thoughts on the matter. It’s like this:

We agreed that America is an angry country, and in some senses it’s always been angry, but if anger is a secondary emotion (which I agree it is), then what was the primary emotion that set this process in motion. I can imagine that there are several different ones for different groups, but is it the case that all who grow up or go there just jump on the anger bandwagon? Is this only an individual phenomena or is there such a thing as a group psyche that is playing a bigger role than we are willing to admit? What is more, I don’t think it’s too far fetched to say that this general “anger” is much more akin to “rage” these days, so what is it about American society that just chaps so many hides?

What I keep coming back to is the “shitstorm” that was unleashed over the bison incident. It’s not the bison per sé, nor even the tourist nor the rangers nor the media … it could have been anything else: there are so many shitstorms these days that someone felt the need to coin a word to describe them. That indicates to me a more deep-seated emotional issue that finds its expression in situations like this? What is that primary underlying emotion that’s driving this?

We spoke of “injustice” as one possible, general causal factor but is American society now so fundamentally unjust that everyone’s getting an addition dose of anger on top of whatever personal resentments they’ve been building up in their lives? Or is it perhaps the obvious disconnect between the image the people have of the country and its reality that is so unraveling? Or is this simply how a nation or a people react when they realize that their Empire’s days are numbered even if they don’t want to openly admit it (or admit it even to themselves)? Or is it something else or some combination of other things?

If the matter is not dealt with (if it even can be dealt with), perhaps Mark’s perceived possible civil war is the result. That would be, needless to say, exceedingly unfortunate. Or are there more not-so-angry individuals beneath the radar, so to speak, who are going to balance out the raging minority?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking so much for answers as I’m looking for contours to help get the issue clearer in my mind.


In a word, Yes. And the CGC (connected global community, pages 115-17, 144 in the book) just adds fuel to the fire (= the personal resentment), not only are victim pools/ponds formed more easily (#metoo, for example) thus giving them strength, but a person can look and see what others have, all over the world, that they don’t (envy) - and that fuels still more rage/heat. Jealousy, which is different from envy, is also inflamed. Jealousy is the emotion experienced when one thinks/feels that one has lost, or had stolen/taken from them some person or thing that was theirs. Like the presidency / power / a loved one or thing, a job, etc. and so. Anger then is the response that gives energy to the person to “fight back”. And then, again, with the CGC, mob-like groups can form and gain strength/power, flailing widely until a leader emerges to organize them into an “army”. This (the CGC) is now “the road to hell” paved with good intentions.

So what we (humans) have is a coming catastrophic situation, because we evolved in an environment of small bands/tribes of related, cooperating individuals struggling against a seemingly chaotic and hostile world, cross breeding with other tribes, thus ever improving the gene pool (only the best/strong etc. survive) via theft, rape, trade, language, technology (weapons) and so on. Migration was the solution, but now the world is full of us, in more ways than one. And, no one has figured it (who we are and why we do what we do) all out yet … and so we are ill prepared (overwhelmed and ill educated) which adds more fuel. Fear, is a primary emotion–fear of oblivion.
Technology, once a positive force aiding survival has turned against us, “backfired”, unless we realize “what the hell is going on”. Even then, maybe nothing can be done? Mindful meditation for the masses? Individual therapy for all? Free?
I don’t know? Us talking about “it” is a start, a drop in the ocean?


Well, again with a Fred Rogers plug…“what do (we) do with the mad that we feel?” The friendly kids’ song speaks to what @achronon and @Mark_Jabbour better articulate in words than could I:

A little context from Wikipedia about the May 1, 1969 Senate Subcommittee hearing on Communications:

John Pastore served as the chairman of United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. He is probably best remembered for taking part in a 1969 hearing involving a $20 million grant for the funding of PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was proposed by former President Lyndon Johnson. President Richard Nixon had wanted to cut the proposed funding to $10 million due to the demands of the Vietnam War, and Fred Rogers, host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood , appeared before the committee to argue for the full $20 million. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. Pastore was not familiar with Rogers’ work, and was sometimes described as gruff and impatient. However, he told Rogers that the testimony had given him goose bumps, and after Rogers recited the lyrics to “What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?”, one of the songs from his show, Pastore finally declared: “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million.”[8][9] The following year’s appropriation increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.


Well that’s great … and what has become of it? Here’s another $20 million … (if I were king).

1 Like

FYI: Adjusted for inflation, $20,000,000.00 in 1969 was equal to $138,886,760.56 in 2018.

1 Like

So? Pain in 2018 is equal only to 70% of pain in 1969? Is that what you’re saying? That’s worth a conversation, i.e. What are you complaining about? All pain is relative? @Geoffreyjen_Edwards, @DurwinFoster @JDockus . What say you? How about you, others?

1 Like

My two cents is that the main challenge for our time is the expression of a healthy version of liberalism/progressivism. From an integral psychology perspective, it’s about doing whatever shadow work I might need to do, in order to heal any “allergies to” or"fixations on" the green altitude, that I might have.

1 Like

I’m not complaining, just observing. Quite a while ago I learned a worthwhile little lesson: if you want to get to the bottom of many things, just follow the money.

In 1969, $20m was considered real money; today … eeh: 7 times that is a drop in an unimaginable bucket. Now we have our elected kindergarteners squabbling over a fairly substantial sum of money to (perhaps not) build something that nobody needs without batting an eye about the collective pain they may be inflicting on, in part, decent earning government employees who also haven’t figured out how to do much more than live from paycheck to paycheck and now can’t afford to get by because, like the so-called leaders they love to elect they have bought into the ideology of spending money you don’t have for things you don’t need. (At least that’s how I understand consumerism.) We’ve come full circle, but it’s not a virtuous one.

So, (since money is involved, not because it is my favorite subject – the Mr. Rogers clip made me think of it) is the economic pain that many Americans feel absolute , relative, self-inflicted …? And does this particular pain contribute to the growing anger within the society; and if so, in which ways? And is there anything that anyone could do anything about, or is this simply one of those facts of life we all have to come to terms with?


I argue for The Wall in the book so I won’t here. I also, I think, respond to all your questions (in the book). The paper about “concept creep” speaks to the growing anger, which I think we talked about in the conversation–it is fueled by the media and the social networks, which are driven by emotions exploited for yes, money. There is a Amazon Prime original movie/documentary “The American Meme” which covers some of the crazy (metapsychosis ?) our culture is in the grips (death throes ?) of.
AS to pain and what I would call genuine anger - you can google “the vulture and the little girl”. I almost posted the picture but don’t want to cause anyone any more pain. It speaks to “the infant in the field” we talked about. (Apparently, anyone brave enough to read my book gets a healthy shot of pain and anger, for whatever the reasons.) The picture details just how harsh, cruel, and hostile is nature, or mother nature. Ha! It was taken in 1993 and won the Pulitzer. The photographer killed himself not long after. The picture is included in a book I have, “Eyewitness: 150 years of photojournalism” (1995) isbn 1-883013-06-2 if anyone’s interested. It’s pretty amazing. Have “we” made progress? I make a case that we haven’t, that we might be going backwards now, or “reverse Darwinism”.
Mister Rogers’s neighborhood? where is it again? your old neighborhood Ed? that 20 million or 138 million didn’t seem to do much good, eh? And check out Nancy Pelosi’s net worth. Her stint in politics covers that time span '93-2018, pretty much.
Write a book is what I did to try and improve the situation. Damn near killed me. Oh, the road to hell. But I’m not complaining, been pretty, no make that, very lucky.