If there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it is that we are witnessing a lot of anger and/or are angry ourselves. In fact, many of us believe we are angrier than ever before. Yet our anger is nothing new. We have been speaking about our increased anger for some time. Even during the good times, we’ve been angry, talking about division and feeling as though the game is rigged. We’ve been watching anger build under some force that is very real. But unlike carbon when kept under high temperature and pressure, our anger will not turn into a diamond. Instead, it might become like methane gas that when mixed with other chemicals can become highly explosive.
Can we put an end to anger? No. Nor do we want to. When appropriate, anger can be a healthy and useful response. As a species, when we recognize danger, anger elicits the physiological response that might ward off the threat. As humans, when we witness injustice, we should experience righteous indignation and moral outrage. In fact, so great is our anger, our fury, we have begun to rage give, donating to organizations we perceive will help us to right wrongs. Anger is one of our most accepted human emotions. Don’t believe me? Then check out the emojis we use on Facebook. Right next to like, love, funny, astonishment, and sadness – is angry face.
Can we individually own anger? Yes. And, if we are to rein in any of it – we must be responsible for our own anger footprint. Why are we angry – for a variety of reasons. Yet there is more to understanding our anger than simply an adrenaline rush and feeling empowered for 10 seconds. When we are powerless, wronged, rejected, guilty, afraid, feel irrelevant, or experience any emotion that goes to the heart of our vulnerability, anger becomes the clothier. But at times, anger like the emperor’s new clothing, conceals nothing and exposes our woundedness. Or, we are encouraged to believe that something exists, when there is nothing.
It is perfectly human to feel anger from time to time. But more than getting angry, perhaps we can understand the source of it in its nakedness – its truth. Perhaps by understanding our own source of anger, we can be kinder to ourselves, and yes, to others. We have all experienced that person or situation that elicits anger from us. Indeed, some have made tapping into our collective anger an art form by recognizing our countless, real inner fears and negative emotions. Utilizing our vulnerabilities to make us even more vulnerable. Anger needs no license – but once it is given one, it spreads like a contagion affecting the masses.
Sometimes our anger is justified. Sometimes it is the most appropriate and authentic way we should and must respond. However, sometimes it is not. It is not appropriate when we lash out at the waiter who takes a bit too long. When we brake check the car behind us in road rage or use words on someone we love and will never be able to retrieve them. Yes, we can and should be accountable for our own rage. As with any other powerful force – we must be able to control it and use it judiciously.
We are in a time when anger needs no prompting. It is the easier and more acceptable reaction to express than restraint. After all, restraint doesn’t get a response, noticed, or applauded. If I could make one request to Mark Zuckerberg – it would have nothing to do with politics, or algorithms. I would simply ask that once a month the angry face emoji disappears. We could all use less angry faces and would be amazed at the reduced anger energy.
If we want a less angry country or world, we must reduce our own footprint. Imagine if every person felt his or her one, little tossed wrapper wasn’t litter? Anger is no different. We all use it, but we must keep it in its rightful place. It is easy to believe that anger will never be reduced or restrained. It is difficult when we feel awash with it. Yet a quick Google search of two words – says it all. When I used Anger as the search term – there were 608,000,000 results. When I searched Love – there were 8,830,000,000. We decide which wins. We can choose – as it is truly up to us. Anger is a powerful force – use it wisely. Love is the greater force – use it liberally.