Anger : There is always a reason.

26 05 2010

I don’t know why, but I have been feeling angry recently.

It could be that I know have been remiss in my blogging duties, mainly through procrastination and by watching endless episodes of  Top Gear on BBC America, which has left me so frustrated that I have had bloggers block.

It could be that having left the UK to live in the USA during a period of fascinating political change, the country of my citizenship has managed to prove that change can happen in a short period of time. For a PM to resign, invite the opposition to form a government, watch as they form a coalition with another party, say goodbye to his staff, pack up his children’s toys and then be escorted to a waiting taxi in the amount of time it takes for an episode of American Idol is quite astonishing. But it still makes me angry that the UK had to endure Gordon Brown at all.

I could be angry because my football team has qualified for the Champions League in the season that I wasn’t there. But I can’t be angry about that, that is actually an achievement.

Glenn Beck and The Tea Party Movement have irritated me, but they don’t make me angry. Confused and wanting to explain to them how society really works but not angry.

The situation with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has angered me but only because I find it amazing that a global corporation doesn’t seem to have a contingency plan in the event of such a disaster happening. I know that deep-sea drilling is a dangerous business but the damage caused by collective inability to act has caused damage not only to the Louisiana coastline but has affected the delicate underwater eco-system to a point where it may never recover.

There is a point in a relatively popular Science Fiction tale where the nature of anger is mused upon by a small green individual. In a calm voice he states that “fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”, the object of his comments stares back impassively, he is a young boy who cannot appreciate the enormity of the task that faces him. That boy would eventually be the ultimate personification of evil, a creature shaped entirely by his emotions and his anger at the way his destiny had played out.

Anger is often seen as a negative emotion, a reaction to something that has enraged an individual to the point where reason has been ignored in favour of a more primal sense. It is defined as “wrath, rage, ire, fury, annoyance, vexation, indignation, spleen” and can be directed at anything or anybody, there are no limits as to what an individual can get angry about. Politics, sport, religion, the environment, other nations, the media, friends and relations, life itself, these are all legitimate targets for our anger.

However in many ways anger is one of the more positive ways that a human being can release pressure, to “vent his spleen” at the perceived injustices that he or she believes they are being subjected to. Far too many people keep their anger contained inside, unable to deal with the raw emotion that is suddenly on view for all to see. It is not healthy to silently fume when the train is late, when the postman doesn’t deliver an expected package, when there is nothing worth watching on TV, when your £15,000,000 striker can’t score from 2 yards, the list is inevitably endless.

However, it was Winston Churchill who said “get me angry, get me energy”, there is so much truth in that men and women can draw on untapped dynamism that flows when the blood is pumping and the adrenaline rushes through the body. However this positive spin is often overlooked in favour of touchy-feely understanding and a tolerant disposition, for this 21st century political correctness has a lot to answer for.

There is no doubt that anger has a negative side, through history there are far too many examples of anger being directed at minorities, too many incarcerated individuals who have let their anger rule their instincts and urges and they have done something that they pay for by a loss of freedom and too many people who have to attend anger management classes to keep themselves in check (incidentally therapists make me angry, an hour is an hour not 50 minutes, thank you very much Sigmund Freud!).

I like anger, it shows commitment and passion. If I see a sportsman getting angry at a decision it merely enforces his desire to win and to succeed. If, when travelling, anger is directed at a faceless company who ensure that your train is constantly “11 minutes late” (as Reginald Iolanthe Perrin, the voice of the angry middle class, constantly found), then perhaps they will try to improve the service.

Anger is at its best when it is directed towards something as opposed to someone, it sparks the desire to instigate change not only in our own lives but in society as a whole. We as human beings are constantly being frustrated in our journey of personal development but that just makes the trip more interesting.

I am going to conclude this piece with a quotation from one of the great individuals of the 20th Century and this time I am not referring to “a galaxy far, far away”.

It was Malcolm X who said “usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change”. Tragically he was assassinated soon after, he obviously struck a nerve and made someone angry, but the words are so poignant especially in today’s MTV and junk food society. We all have the capacity for anger, let us use it in a positive way and the world will be a better place.

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