…And Another Thing!

Sometimes shit pisses me off.
I’m not complaining. I’m not lamenting. And I’m certainly not apologizing. I’m simply stating a fact. Because anger is a fact- a fact of life. And it’s one that far too many people are afraid to admit.
What are you afraid of, people? That those who are angry might no longer be complacent? That they might feel empowered by their rage? That they might even try to do something about whatever is angering them?
When I was young, if I experienced (what I perceived to be) an injustice, I was always told to “count to ten.” I’d be reminded about sticks and stones and broken bones, and whatever else it is that adults tell children to shut them up and keep them under control. But I was never asked what was bothering me. Never allowed to express my side. This is, I think, what most parents and teachers do with kids. Who hasn’t heard “shh, shh, don’t be angry, just breathe” when they have been justifiably pissed off? It tells you that no one wants to hear about your problems, so you should just swallow your emotions and put on a happy face so that everyone can believe that everyone gets along.
I am here to call bullshit. I am here to say that we as human beings are entitled to our rage. Anger is natural and you have every right to experience it.
Now, this may sound unsafe if you assume that anger necessarily leads to violence. But it simply isn’t so. Sure, you are entitled to feel angry, but you’re not entitled to hurt people. There can be other, more constructive ways to express anger. The problem is that we never learn them. We never come to understand, to take control, to truly own our anger, so when it boils to the breaking point, we just explode. Our fear of ourselves has kept us from forming a healthy relationship with our wrath, so we’re left with no option but to lash out. If we make an effort to learn and to teach the positive attributes of anger instead of burying it and pretending it doesn’t exist, I’d like to think we’d simply function better as a society.
Whether it be activism for positive change, artistic expression of profound insight, or just pure comedy gold, the uses that enlightened souls have found over the centuries for this immense power that we all possess have been great indeed. Violence is often caused by fear, greed, desperation, and many, many other emotional states besides anger. Anger doesn’t cause wars, at least not alone- you need to stand to gain something by vanquishing your foe, and a healthy dose of xenophobia doesn’t hurt either. Whether you’re out to seize land or oil, or to convert another culture into your way of life, anger simply isn’t the primary motivation to go to war. It is, however, the primary motivation for protesting it.
Yes, people do irresponsible things out of anger. But that isn’t a problem with being angry, it’s a problem with being irresponsible. Anger doesn’t oppress people, but it does make people rise up against oppression. Anger doesn’t censor books, but it does form secret information dissemination societies. Anger doesn’t discriminate, but it sure does hold those who do to justice.
Sometimes shit just pisses me off. And no matter how many times I count to ten, or a hundred, or a million, they just don’t go away. The people of China are still prevented from Googling “Tiananmen Square protests”. American history textbooks still omit the Vietnam War. Women in Iran are still stoned to death. And Constance McMillen still can’t take her girlfriend to prom.
So I’m angry. Yes, I’m angry, okay?
What are you going to do about it?

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