Anger and What is Wrong in the World

I had a conversation with a friend this afternoon (and I use the term "conversation" loosely...it was mostly a diatribe from him, with me throwing in the occasional question). It's exhausting to listen to the story a person's anger and frustration with the world and confusion about how to exist in a system that is set up and run by people who are totally out of touch with what it means to be a laborer and to really build the world. He was angry, and he has a right to be.

And I started thinking about my own anger toward this world. Actually, what I really started realizing was that I am not feeling all that angry at the world these days. But I don't think that's a good thing. As any of you who have cried out with rage in the midst of injustice or mistreatment or seeing some unnecessary suffering of humanity, seeing the ways the structure of our culture is to blame for the hardship and day-to-day struggles of millions of people...many of you know there really is a need for anger. The thing is though, being angry all the time is so tiring. It's hard to always fight against the grain. It's much easier just to fit in with the way the world is--to assimilate to some of the ladder climbing, and to just kind of go with the flow from time to time...and to just put out of your mind that you are kind of complicitly supporting and engaging in the dominant system of oppression.

Especially for someone like me--who in some ways benefits from the way our culture is. I think fast, I'm good at school, I grew up in the dominant (white) culture, and I'm articulate. I have the potential to climb pretty high up on the ladder of status in our society (though my gender, physical appearance, and total inability to bullshit people partly limits how high I'd be able to climb). Sometimes complacency can come easy; especially because anger is so draining. And with complacency comes lack of motivation to create change. So I can see why the power structures in the world would love complacency. With anger can come impetus to start a revolution that would dismantle parts of society; in some ways, I think it's a necessary step when wanting to dismantle a totally f-ed up system. So, be angry people. Be very angry. And then, go do something about it.

I'm finishing up a play by T.S. Eliot called The Cocktail Party...and a quotation from it struck me, as I was considering all these issues. It is a line given to the character Celia:

I first must tell you
That I should really like to think there's something wrong with me --
Because, if there isn't, then there's something wrong,
Or at least, very different from what seemed to be,
With the world itself--and that's much more frightening!
That would be terrible. So I'd rather believe
There is something wrong with me, that could be put right.
I'd do anything you told me, to get back to normality.

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Anonymous m said...

Loved the quote! I think it's always so much easier to question one's own perception than deal with the concept that the reality might be as bad as it seems to be.

10:32 PM  

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