Do we live in a sriracha world?

Why are so many processed foods now flavored with sriracha? Why is suddenly everything fire engine spicy? I’ve been wondering this for quite some time.

It dawned on me that maybe the answer is that sriracha is compensating for the tastelessness of the processed food. And now that we are hooked on the “kick” of the spice we need more and more to break through to our taste buds. So fast food chains create new burgers with sriracha and ghost peppers and pepper jack cheese.

Do we also see a sriracha effect when it comes to our emotions? Anger is the sriracha of emotion. Anger will burn our heart like sriracha burns mouth.

And just as restaurants might be using sriracha to make tasteless food have some kind of flavor, might people be using anger to break through our collective emotional numbness?  Is that why we see so much anger everywhere – in movies, blogs, reality shows? Do those creating these “entertainment products” know they need to add some anger to spice things up? And just as food is getting spicier and spicier do people need to say and do more and more outrageous things to get our attention?

And if this analogy holds, why do we fall for it? Why do we lap up the anger and ask for more? Is it that we don’t feel much at all – so we need that punch of anger to feel alive?

How can we counteract all this negativity? The esteemed Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron talks about this in her audio class “Don’t Bite the Hook.”  Here’s a quote:

[The 8th century Indian Buddhist monk] Shantideva says a lot about our mindset. The mindset of friend and foe. Like and dislike. For me and against me. And how that very mechanism of buying so tightly into this notion of the good people and the bad people—the ones that I like and the ones I don’t like—and how we get so invested in this and how this is “the kindling” or “the fuel” for anger and aggression to escalate.

As Pema (and Shantideva) point out, we all have the opportunity, at each moment, to either add to the “kindling” for anger, or de-escalate the aggression. This is something to contemplate – especially in the current political climate. We can add to the toxicity, or help diminish it by spreading light to those around us.