Your anger won’t save us.
If I may interrupt the rage fest that is social media these days…
Just wanted to drop in a little something, if you can even read it. I don’t know about you, but my brain stopped computing around 1am on 11/8/16.
It’s about your anger. And mine.
You may feel entitled to be enraged. You might just feel hopelessly bereft. There are bad things happening to good people, and even though that’s been happening all around the world and definitely in our country for a really long time, you feel like it’s worse or bigger or scarier and completely intolerable now. And if you scream loudly enough or word your argument just right, or post the perfect article that AGREES with you to people who AGREE with you, you’ll convince the millions in opposition of your brilliant wisdom, the kind that blinds.
The truth dazzles gradually, or else the world would be blind. -Emily Dickinson
(Not sure if you have noticed but that isn’t working to change people.)
But the feelings are still there, the tender, vulnerable feelings of disappointment, fear, dread and helplessness, and the anger rushes in to protect you.
So you shame. And blame. And the other side retaliates.
Does that work, either?
If your intended result is to be HEARD then yelling, shaming and blaming ensures like-minded people will agree with you more than they do. But it won’t bring about the change you want. It won’t save us.
And this is inconvenient to hear so I think people stopped listening to me because I’m not wearing the wristband for the Fully Entitled to My Childlike Rage Party: ADMIT ONE.
I’ve been to them all. Seen the scene. They are all the same.
So I surrender to people confusing my wallflower presence with apathy. Or maybe perhaps, luminous white (perceived) male privilege. Or the patronizing Pollyanna I’m often mistaken for.
It’s ok. I worked on my self-esteem during my suicidal ideations so it’s pretty watertight these days. Repeating the phrase, “don’t take it personally” so many times to the point that I can’t even finish it anymore.
I make it to “don’t”. Which is good advice for most things, really.
I don’t confuse my anger with a feeling. I’ve learned to see anger as the smoke alarm for the fire of real feelings. Disappointed. Afraid. Confused.
The dangling carrot of your anger belies salvation. But anger begets anger which begets violence and more anger. Your anger won’t save us.
Instead it perpetuates the cycle as you hurl your self-righteous epithets into the ether so it can reverberate among the stars and dim them a little before coming back in the shape of your worst enemy. The him or her or them who are really just a mirror of your worst, ugliest qualities.
Once you see that as truth, it’s humbling and those are horrifying, helpless moments where I hold onto the nearest piece of furniture when I’m face-to-face with my littlest self.
When I think about the countless hours I spent pointing my finger at anyone or anything to avoid the insurmountable task of directing those fingers back at my chest. As long as I could fill the list of complaints, worded as wisely as possible with carefully-articulated jargon and defense, and find another person who agreed to validate my attempts to avoid the actions that would actually change things, the sun would set on another day where I wasn’t responsible for the suffering I caused myself. And others.
Like my mother. And the tone I use with the person who writes in a card attached to a present each year, “I couldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day if not for you!”
I was hurt and afraid and I thought my anger was justified. And I needed my reasons to save me. And it cost me years that I can’t get back.
All the anger did was drive the love and peace I craved farther from me every day. The anger that covered the fear, sadness and hurt that I let manifest as more of what I hoped to escape and eradicate.
Your anger won’t save us. It won’t save you. It only hurts us all the more.
Then I learned to take real action that didn’t involve shaming, blaming or changing anyone but myself. Worry about your side of the street and use your anger to take real action. Act from what inspires you most and invite but don’t berate. BE the change you want to see instead of wasting time and energy on trying to convince people to be, think or act like you. If angry is all you are, you’re becoming exactly what you resist. And who wants to emulate that?
If it’s change you truly seek, be brave enough to get under the anger to the real feelings that inspire, encourage and motivate people toward new ways of thinking and seeing themselves and others.
Save yourself from your anger and you save the world, entire.