These are angry days (and nights). Presidential politics--boiling anger; watching this country's pathetic response to COVID19 pandemic--anxiety anger; steadily rising death toll- grief-stricken anger; social media--cauldron of anger; social unrest- righteous anger; anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers--WTH anger.
And, I have to admit, I have ranged over the past several months from somewhere between barely adequate and terrible in controlling my own anger. Increasingly, I find myself getting angry over many things, big and small. Congressional grandstanding--anger. Presidential prevaricating--anger. Doctors who believe vaccines are made from alien DNA--anger. Getting caught by a train at a railroad crossing--anger. Out of toilet paper at Costco- anger. Running out of watchable Netflix shows-anger. Possibility of no football in 2020--inconsolable.
Don't get me wrong. Focused anger can be both righteous and useful. Victims of abuse have every right to be angry about the abuse. Folks who are victimized by lies have every right to be angry at the disrespect shown by the liar. Those subjected to persistent bigotry should not be limited to turning the other cheek. There are times when the price to buy peace is a price that the perpetrator (and the perpetrators enablers) want only the victim to pay, and a victim's outrage at such times often an appropriate response. And sometimes it is necessary for entire groups to join together in an expression of a unified anger ("Me Too"; "BLM") to effect the changes required to address the source of the injustice.
But focusing anger to effect change is significantly different than an uncontrolled fire of daily internalized rage. Focused anger often inspires and motivates. Rage only consumes and demoralizes--first yourself, and then, too often, those around you. Rage obliterates everything in its path...it doesn't inspire, it incinerates. But finding a path to avoid the devolution of anger into rage is no easy task and, speaking personally, I know that finding the path can be a challenge.
If you think I am here with a secret sauce to cool the burning embers, well, you have come to the wrong place. I wish I knew. Heck, I am a guy that screams at the television set each time a Saints or Pelicans player makes a costly mistake. So far from me to offer a lecture on personal anger management. But I do worry that as we get into the fall and the 24 hour election news cycle morphs into a 48 hour -a -day dogpile of venom, that the anger index (the country's and my own) will skyrocket.
However, what occurs to me is how lazy an emotion rage is. It takes no effort. Something happens, and it provokes an emotive, over-the-top response. No need to assess, no need to think through, no effort required to understand the source of the event that gave rise to the anger. Just turn the burners on and roast. And to what end? To address the problem? To develop a response? To feel better? Nope, because each of those reactions would actually take some effort. And, in the meantime, you torch yourself and everyone around you.
So I am not here to lecture, because I well know the attraction of the white-hot flame. Just a thought that perhaps rage is a lazy road that leads nowhere. A better road might be to work for change or at least understanding--and sit back and enjoy a game rather than cursing the television set.
At least that is my aspirational goal. And by aspirational I mean a goal that I have yet to achieve.