Perhaps the only thing we can agree on at this painfully divisive moment in our national history is that all this anger and derision in which we're marinating isn't healthy. Not for us, not for our kids and certainly not for the country. But as a nation, we can't seem to quit. We're so primed to be mad about something every morning, it's almost disappointing when there isn't an infuriating tweet to share or a bit of our moral turf to defend waiting in our phones.
No wonder it feels as if the nation is a little sick. It's as if we all have a virus and some of us are more vulnerable to it than others. That is in fact how some social scientists are describing the spread of rage and division. Violence and violent speech meet the criteria of disease, says Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder of Cure Violence and faculty of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Like a virus, violence makes more of itself. Rage begets more rage. And it spreads because we humans are wired to follow our peers.