Harvesting Anger

January 15, 2009

Anger is so often seen as a negative emotion. The immediate mental image I elicit, when I think ‘anger’ is a loss of control, violence, and being swept away.

The more enlightened of us will know, there is no such thing as “good” and “bad”, or “positive” and “negative”; not in a truly universal, existential sense anyway. “Good”, “bad” and all those kinds of words are labels, and simplistic ones that deny the complexity of any situation at that. They deny the natural duality, continuum and changeability of the universe and anything that exists within it. Secondly, they are firmly and often unconsciously based on our perspectives- our unique constructs of the world, built not from reality, but from experience, contemplation and the values and beliefs we have taken on from the world around us.

Keeping this in mind, I let go of the need to see anger as a negative or destructive emotion. Of course, it can be, but to label it as either of those things, to box it in, is cutting me off from the opportunity that it may present me.

A duality of anger is this: it can be constructive, or destructive. Destructive anger fuels violence, prejudice and danger. Perhaps it stems from a lack of full contemplation of the situation (which is, of course, a challenge in the heat of the moment!). Also, it can be indicative of an overly powerful id, (or in lay terms, instinctual drive), or perhaps the insufficient completion of an earlier life stage of controlling instincts and channelling them into socially acceptable ways (although, given again the duality of things, there probably are times that unrestrained, public anger is appropriate, and certainly, from a therapeutic sense, it can be useful to appropriately express these kinds of emotions in a safe environment…but I digress).

To an activist, constructive anger is a valuable tool. Activism stems from a sense of injustice, and that sense of injustice, among other things, will commonly elicit anger.

Without anger, there would be no activism, no Movements, no social justice.

Anger gives us the energy to step outside our comfort zones and speak out about our beliefs. It helps us to keep campaigning and educating when morale is low and positive change seems unlikely. It helps us connect with those who are most primarily affected by the issue, whether it be a deep sense of centeredness and grounding in our own place in the world, or a nameless identity on the other side of the world.

Anger provokes us to consider our world, to engage in it, and to debate and consider how it can be improved. Given this consciousness, it shows us how to act.

All of this, makes anger a gift from the universe, to us, and ultimately to itself.

The important issue is how the anger is used. Anger, used creatively, and constructively engages people, involves them and assists us all, cooperatively to make a fairer world. Destructive and violent anger (not only is physical violence, but verbal and emotional and any other way) alienates people, and creates not cooperation, but delineation. By it’s own definitions, it cuts itself off from meeting it’s own goals.

The trick is a matter of control. Does the anger control you, or do you control your anger? It’s ‘your’ anger, to use as benefit to you, and not as is often seen, to undermine you. Own it, and allow it to serve you, and your world.