Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Someone Had Better Be Prepared For Rage

Anger.  It's one of those basic emotional states that we're taught early on that we must keep on a short leash. 
  • You must control your anger. 
  • Anger is something you need to resist. 
  • What good does it do getting angry? 
  • Anger leads to despair and defeat. 
  • Don't give in to anger.  
There is, I suppose, good reason to maintain a tight rein on our anger. It's the emotion that can be outwardly and inwardly destructive. Anger is born from an instinctive reaction, not a reasoned response. Anger reflects chaos and anarchy, of devastation and ruin. 

Yet sometimes we need to be angry. Anger is real and when it gets fed by a litany of real and perceived slights, offenses and hurts, there comes a point that anger exceeds our abilities to hold it in. But we tried to hold it in, hold it down. People in a polite and ordered society cannot express themselves through anger, can they? 

Think about what's going on in Baltimore right now. What good has come from the violence, vandalism and looting that has come from the riots that erupted on Monday? What reasonable objective can be accomplished through such displays of rage? The wholesale violence is against the self interests of those who have had their raged stoked.  

But think about this: another word for "angry" is "mad". That's "mad" as in "madness". Therein lies the problem. Anger is madness. There is no rational plan and no rational outcome. Sometimes, as Howard Beale told his viewers in the film Network, you just have to get angry and you have to demonstrate that anger. Beale urged his viewers to throw open their windows and yell to the top of their lungs, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" 

To be fair, a lot of the rioting can be placed at the feet of thugs* who look to profit from the outrage. Their actions are beyond appalling and do nothing but undermine what I think is a very real problem of badly deteriorating relations between the police and people of color. 

*I loved the story of the thug who was taken down by his own mother, berating him mercilessly for his criminal behavior. 

But take away the thugs and there's still a lot of anger to be addressed. And it's not always possible that anger is going to kept contained. At some point, anger swings to mad which means madness and then....Whoosh! 

Sometimes we have more than we can handle. Sometimes we have to stand more than we should have to stand for. There's a point when the best of us can just give in to madness because, simply put, we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.

And when that happens, logic is useless, reason has no power. When anger becomes mad, someone had better be prepared for rage

Everyone, try to be extra good to one another. 

The closing line "someone had better be prepared for rage" is from perhaps my favorite poem, Once by the Pacific by Robert Frost. Here's a blog post about that from just 1 day shy of two years ago.   

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