I once had a coach tell me that people are innately driven by two emotions: anger and joy. According to him, anything else was just a derivative on the spectrum of these two extreme emotions.
He usually used this euphemism to get us riled up for whatever athletic venture we were about to embark on, but I’ve found this philosophy to be true in just about every aspect of life. Whatever you succeed at, the driving force behind it is usually rooted in anger or happiness and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that these two polarizing emotions have one commonality, and that is passion. Passion (while often romanticized and championed) can also be misconstrued, compounded, and convoluted.
What we’re witnessing on a global scale in recent years (thanks to the internet, extreme party lines, and entertainment stations posturing as “the news”) is a LOT of anger. Like, the kind of anger that can’t be pacified, rationalized with, or even understood. It’s anger peacocking as passion and it is TOXIC.
I recently read an article entitled “100 Things Not to Say or Do to a Black Person” which had the potential to be a poignant, well thought-out piece (minus that small detail that hardly anyone has the attention span to read through one hundred of ANYTHING).
To be fair, there were very valid speaking points on behalf of the writer, but those arguments were completely diluted with stupid crap like following:
“Just because I’m from some foreign place, doesn’t mean you have to bring up that one time you went there.” (Yeah, hi. If you’re from freak’in IDAHO and we’re conversing, I’m probably going to bring up that one time my car broke down in Idaho. I don’t give a shit what color you are – it’s called socializing, you pretentious asshat.)
“Don’t assume I’m a good dancer.” (Well, with that kind of attitude, I’ll just assume you aren’t good at anything other than killing a good time.)
“Don’t assume my name is Jamal.” (Ok, I kind of get how this can be annoying, but in my defense, I also assume most racist conservative white ladies have two names like Suzie May. The pendulum swings both ways.)
My point in bringing up this particular article isn’t to pick on black people – they just happen to be the only people patient enough to write ONE HUNDRED THINGS THAT IRRITATE THEM.
My point is that everyone seems to be angry at everything, but the anger is disguised as passion and that’s a very tight rope to walk. If your anger towards the injustice of your people (whether you are black, Jewish, gay, female, Evangelical, anti-vaxxers, vegans, furries, whatever) propels you to actively create positive change – that’s great! Keep up the good fight!
But if you’re seeking out news sources and blogs to sustain, ignite, and justify your anger or to tell you what you SHOULD be mad about today, that doesn’t make you informed – it makes you a slave. Anger, if not redistributed in the form of active change and hope, does nothing but fester within, kill your spirit, and make you mad at things and people that probably bare no impact on your life.
One of the final talking points in the article I brought up was, “Let black people be angry.” And I agree. Nobody has a right to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t be angry about (even me, as I write this article). That’s on you. You get to decide what you want to be angry about.
But unless that anger drives you to make significant, active change and reform, you’re doing nothing but holding yourself hostage. And there isn’t anyone to blame for that but yourself.