on Big Anger

we are in a trying political climate, and some of us are feeling the burden of an overwhelming, existential anger for the first time. if this is your first relationship with Big Anger, well, welcome. some folks have been feeling Big Anger for decades, so we have much to learn from them. (want to hear their voices directly? start here. and here. and here. and here. and here.)

i have been privileged enough to be sheltered from Big Anger for a while, until a few years ago when this kid named trayvon died, everyone said it was about race, and my ignorant white ass had to sit down and take a hard look at what was going on.

when i did, with the help of an anti-racism workshop, my worldview crashed down. i had no idea all this suffering was going on right under my nose, and my lack of empathy was helping to perpetuate that suffering.

i got depressed. and then i got angry.

someone once told me anger was a step up from depression. because with depression, there is no sense of worth, there is nothing to defend, there is just hopelessness.

with anger, there is something to protect. anger knows you have something of value and is upset that something is taking that value away. someone has wronged you or people you love, and nobody deserved that injustice. anger tells you that something is worth fighting for.

and anger is correct.

it’s an important messenger. listen to it. let it call you to action.

but also, if you can help it, please don’t move into its house.

Big Anger likes to tell you it’s the only path to change. Big Anger is an abusive partner who makes you feel special, important, who says they’re the only one for you, they’re the only one who can provide for you and give you want you want.

Big Anger is a fucking liar.

we need you to keep in touch with love, gratitude and humor if we are to sustain ourselves through this. this is a marathon, not a sprint. Big Anger will always be there, but Big Anger is not the only pathway to progress. in fact, Big Anger is the surefire way to burn out a swath of humanity right when we need the energy to resist.

don’t get me wrong: anger is important to listen to. and PLEASE don’t lecture other people’s relationship with anger. it’s important that people feel it and have a relationship with it, but you do not need to forsake every other feeling you as a human being are capable of feeling.

anger is an amazing motivator. but so is love. so is gratitude. so is sadness. so is joy.

so by all means, feel angry. and then act.

but also feel gratitude, then act.

feel relaxation, then act.

feel sad, then act.

feel joy, then act.

do not let Big Anger be the only thing that drives you to action.

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