4 min read

Being Kind to difficult people -- a mini course -- You have no reason to be SO angry (part four)


You have no reason to be so angry.       "You have no reason to be SO angry." I heard this the first time when I was in fifth grade after I caught the teacher in a lie. I angrily asked her why she lied, and she told me that I had no reason to be SO angry. When I defended my feelings -- after all she had lied -- she started in on "it's not that you're angry, it's that you're SO angry."        Sound familiar? If you live in the US, you are hearing a lot of this today. Clean, safe, well paid, makeup clad people with well coifed hair say a variety of: "It's not that they protest, it's that they are SO angry." All the other folks perfect hair moves as they nod in agreement.        "It's the antifa" which is a statement akin to saying: "It's the bogyman." You suck in a breath and want to scream: "IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM" or "THERE IS NO ANTIFA." Suddenly, you're "too angry."        Here's the thing -- anger is a primary emotion. We all feel it in reaction to being violated emotionally, mentally, physically, or psychically. Anger is natural. Anger is normal. Anger is appropriate. Anger is a powerful, flowing emotion that must be released or risk that anger turning into bitterness and blocking our progress.        Buddhist priest, Pema Chodron, says that anger is where our power and our beauty resides. People who refuse to feel their anger are cut off from their own power. The work then becomes making friends with your anger. By making friends with your own anger, you begin to embrace the very power that will move you and this nation forward.        Some things to think about:       1. No one can say that you should or shouldn't feel something. You feel what you feel based on your life experiences and temperament. Unless the person is with you, inside your body, for all of your life, they simply cannot judge the strength of your feelings. If no one can judge the strength of your emotions, how can you judge the strength of someone else's emotions?       2. There is no them. If "they" are angry, it's worth asking yourself why you aren't angry? No, really, if a large part of the population is angry and you aren't, it's worth asking why? Maybe this isn't your issue, but you're furious about the environment or child slavery or domestic violence or sex trafficking or...? How can you ask "them" to show up for the injustice you're angry about if you don't care about what "they" are angry about? Give it up. Join the "us." You wouldn't refuse their lung, if you needed it. Why do you refuse to see what they are angry about?     What to say when someone says: "They/You are just too angry."?   1. "God bless the angry. They change the world." This is actually true. People who are angry ignite change by shaking the foundations of their world. Your country was likely forged in the anger of your ancestors. Most religions start talking about "love" but are created in the rage of their participants. Rage forces change.       2. "Don't judge." This simple statement has tremendous power. You simply refuse to listen to it. Bam.       3. "Change is messy." Ever seen a baby born? There's blood and violence; near death of the mother and the child as they fight through this powerful moment. It's messy. That's where the world is right now. We are birthing a new, more equitable world.        4. In the words of Barack Obama: "If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals." That's a little long winded. You could try "What do you think is effective action against the injustices you experience?" or "How do you think we can begin to live up to our countries highest ideas?"       One of the things that terrifies me the most is that we will go through all of this -- the riots, the pandemic, income equality, racial profiling, police violence, not to mention millions of Americans out of work looking at the chance that 41% of their jobs won't return -- and nothing will change.        When everything fell apart in 2008, most people expected the world would change toward being more equitable. Without the visible and visceral power of our rage, governments fell back on old systems and old ways to cram everything back into the box.        Around the world, the box has broken apart. There's no way to shove everything back inside again. The "normal" of the past is not going to return.       Now is the time for us to use our rage to create equality for all. It takes a lot to change the world. Some will march. Some will write letters. Some with help us dream of a better world. Some will provide resources. Some will stand up for others. We each have a roll to play. If your role is: "I don't judge their anger. How would I know?" (another good thing to say), then that's enough.        Has this happened to you? Have people judged your anger? What would you say?   -----