How do we start changing the destruction course we are on?
***This post is part of the “Beliefs and Anger” Series. Some parts of this series may make you uncomfortable. However, we are unable to truly change if our thoughts, beliefs, values, and decisions are never questioned. I know the topics of beliefs and anger are momentous, so each post is designed to help break down our anger emotions and what may be beneath our anger (i.e. beliefs), so we can collectively move forward. Each post may be read individually; however, reading all of them will give you greater insight into yourself and society. If you chose to read them in order, read them in the order they were posted (this is the first post). Staying in the safe status quo is damaging to society and to you in the long term. Do you really want to stay where we are currently are, anyways?***
We, as the United States, have increasingly allowed ourselves to operate and react from a place of anger. In order to move beyond our anger we need to see what is possible. So let’s start with what is possible and then come back to anger.
What does your utopia look like?
For as much as we are easily angered and seem to disagree on everything, I am going to guess the majority of us actually want similar things. Now, when we envision the similar things we want, the specifics of what that world would look like and how we get there is unique to each of us. However, humor me for a moment, and play along.
Imagine you have been given Glinda’s wand and you create the following with a swish of her wand:
- Our children receive topnotch education
- All of our cities and towns are beautiful and vibrant, completely absent of violence
- Our health care is rated the best in the entire world
- Our parks, military, and infrastructure have all the resources they need
- People respect each other during every interaction, whether in-person or on-line
- Everyone contributes something of value to our country, jobs are plentiful and are cultivated to people’s strengths
You may be thinking Glinda’s wand doesn’t have that much power, but remember, we are only playing. Let’s play a little more.
After all of those things are accomplished, you stare at the wand in awe. You slowly look around you.
How do you feel when you see healthy children happily playing in the school yard?
How do you feel as you walk down the street and people seem more jovial and relaxed?
Notice the colors you see, on the buildings, the trees, the flowers, the entire street.
Is it your imagination or do those colors themselves seem more even vibrate and alive?
And those flowers you noticed, are you enjoying the smell?
You walk a bit further and someone is passing out free ice cream cones.
It happens to be in your favorite flavor.
You accept one, thank the person, and take a bite.
It tastes exactly like you knew it would.
In fact it is even more flavorful than you thought it was going to be.
It is a warm, beautiful, sunny day, and the ice cream melts down the cone and all over your hand.
As you feel the stickiness of the ice cream and see the mess it is making, you slowly smile, and enjoy the experience.
Because you know, not that long ago, you or someone you know, may have had a very different reaction.
Far from utopia
Three clicks of your heels, and you come crashing back to our current home.
There are people who are angry at:
- The left liberals
- The right conservatives
- People who don’t conform
- People who conform too much
- People within their own subculture
- People whose religion is different from theirs
- People who are a different race from them
- People who are the same race as them
- The government
- The protesters
- Everyone else in between
- People are even angry about an ice cream cone that caused a mess on their hand. They don’t have time to deal with such an inconvenience.
What is the cost if we keep holding on to our anger?
Is our future going to be exactly how Glinda’s wand made it? Chances are pretty good there will be differences. But if we allow the gap between where we are now and where we need to go to have America united again, it will only get bigger and our own destruction greater. We need to start diminishing the gap between where Glinda’s wand took us and where we are now.
Like it or not, every single one of us has played a part in getting us to this point. And one of the many contributing factors to getting here is our anger. Very little, if anything, ever gets resolved in the heat of an argument, regardless of what the argument is about. Now, our anger is a valid emotion and there is a lot to be angry about. (Anger has several purposes, which will be discussed at length in a future post.) Outside influences, like society, family, and friends, contribute to our anger. For some people, these outside influences may figure more prominently in their lives than for others. However, to really address our anger, we have to start looking within ourselves, as well.
No one enjoys being around a person who is angry, so we tend to swallow our anger over and over again until it becomes so big that it breaks from our control. Think of road rage, or a twitter rant. We lash out because it easier to be angry at a system or a group of people we don’t see ourselves as being a part of, or an individual we don’t know personally. It (whatever “it” was) was done to us. We had no part in it, we tell ourselves. Yes, the “it” was done to us. But we have to start acknowledging how our own reactions play a part in our own anger.
Many times our anger is deeper than one incident. But most of those other incidents are stored in our unconscious mind, so our conscious mind considers them separate, non-related incidents.
- We expected an apology
- We hoped someone else would make it go away or fix it
- It seemed insignificant to call attention to it the first time, the second time, the third time…
- There was real or imagined fear attached to speaking up about our anger
- We didn’t have the words to speak up
- We swallowed our hurt and tried our best to forget it happened
- We were complacent when it first happened, and maybe for several more times
- We were actually told by someone, directly or indirectly, to not feel our anger, to smile instead
- We were (or are) disappointed in how we reacted
We have to find the courage and inner strength to start reviewing our own anger in a constructive way, regardless of what caused it. Finding the courage and inner strength to examine our own feelings is hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it is probably going to take some time and work to do it. Our alternative is to just keep getting angry, and, consequently, to keep letting everything we want (and need) slip through our fingers.
If anger is always the dominant emotion, it is much easier for us to be controlled and to be managed. Think mob mentality; in Beauty and the Beast the townspeople stormed the castle because they were told the Beast was dangerous. Until they were told he was dangerous, they had no reason to attack him. And taking it one step further: as the whole town was storming the castle with pitchforks, it would have been easy to do something sinister in the town while all the attention was diverted.
Until we, individually and collectively, are able to start to have the courage to accept the important part we play in our own anger, the gap will keep getting bigger. The stakes become higher as well, because the more angry we continue to be, the more our anger spills onto the people we care about the most. The anger that spills onto loved ones is sometimes the anger we can’t take back through our words or our actions. This, in turn, will only cause us more pain and anger. Then the cycle repeats. It is time to break the old worn out cycle forever. It is time to take back control of our anger, so we can utilize its power, instead of fear its wrath.
Originally published at medium.com