Anger Won’t Fix Your Problems
There’s an imaginary scale, a hypothetical spectrum that we’ve bought into that reveals how right or wrong something is based on how angry it makes us. If we’re not fired up by the latest thing that people on the left have done then we must be morally inferior, or if we’re not enraged by the latest thing that the people on the right have done, we must be cold-hearted fascists.
But this is economy of rage is manufactured. It isn’t real. It is a tool of manipulation used by lazy politicians and, worse, lazy journalists, to sell us their point of view, sell us their politics, sell us their snake oil cure for the latest thing we need to be afraid of. Think Trump’s Wall, Brexit, immigration, reds under the bed, reefer madness, paedogeddon, Cold War propaganda. If you’re not angry you’re not paying attention. Right?
The tabloid press trades in this kind of manipulation. You see, it takes less energy to let someone else do the thinking for you, so that you don’t have to. The only problem is, those people who you are outsourcing your rage to aren’t always right. They aren’t always on the side of good. They aren’t progressing the human race in a positive direction. They have another agenda and it has nothing to do with your best interests.
They want you to be angry, because angry is a proxy for fear, and as long as you’re afraid you need their help – or you’re distracted. The latest two-minute hate is like a bat signal for the self-serving self-proclaimed elite in positions of power and authority to keep us distracted from other things.
They want us to be angry about foreigners and immigrants so that we won’t think that world leaders have failed to work together and look after the people in their respective countries. They want us to be angry at those less fortunate than ourselves so that we won’t look at the money laundering and corruption that goes on at the other end of the country. They want us to to be angry at life so that they won’t be discovered for being inept, short-sighted and greedy.
But what happens if we choose to not be angry.
When we refuse to allow ourselves to be triggered into anger by the latest shock headlines, by the latest political scandal, or by the latest moral outrage, we are no longer under its control. When we can calmly walk past reports of the murderers and rapists who, more like zombies than actual humans, are clambering at our borders desperate to get into our beautiful country and eat our brains, and not be stirred into screaming panic, then their power is diminished. When we don’t join one side in screaming at the other, simply reflecting that energy back across the divide like the most draining and ineffective tennis match ever, and instead choose to step aside from it all, we find ourselves in an interesting position.
By choosing not to become angered and outraged, and spitting feathers by the latest outrageous bullshit that spills forth from the fetid gobholes of Trump, Farage, Yaxley-Lennon or Johnson, we suddenly find ourselves with time and capacity on our hands. Time and capacity to actually make change.
There are scientists who aren’t on twitter ranting about Brexit, who are instead working to cure cancer. There are teachers who are working to revolutionise education so that instead of growing adults who simply buy stuff and pay taxes, those children might one day make the world a better place. There are engineers building machines that will improve our lives, that will bring water to the desert, that will connect the most remote villages to the internet, that will look for life beyond our planet.
This isn’t about opting out and simply washing our hands of the responsibility of speaking truth to power, but it’s about choosing a different tack. It’s about being the change we want to see in the world. And it’s about doing it by finding our inner peace first, so that we can focus our attention in beneficial ways.
Even if we choose a life of kindness, of stepping gently through the world, and causing no harm, then we are on the right track to change the world for the better. One person at a time, by spreading love and kindness, we can cure the world of its ills.
This is direct action. You might disagree, but think of it like this – in the context of one of today’s hot-top moral outrages. If one person recycles one plastic bottle, the impact is minimal. If two people recycle all their plastic, it makes no difference. But if a whole community begin to do it, the message becomes louder. If a whole country rejects plastic, the world gets a little better. If the world chooses to replace single-use plastics with eco-friendly alternatives, the planet begins to heal itself.
We know this works. It worked with the global rejection of CFCs and now the hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller. What if we were to each adopt an attitude of peace, of love and compassion and empathy? What if we were to see the people trying to flee their home countries and seeking a better life in ours as… people? People just like us? What if we were to see the immigration crisis as a symptom of a broken world and take steps to fix the cause rather than the symptoms?
This doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means we can be witness to injustice and still retain our peace. It means that we can fight for a worthy cause without being ruled by rage. It means that we vote in the best interests of our brothers and sisters. That we adopt a gentler approach to living. That we don’t allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who profit from our anger. It means we seek first to understand before we choose conflict. It means that we recognised that our anger is not the solution, and choose an alternative instead.
We don’t need to succumb to negative emotions. We don’t need to get pissed off when things don’t go our way, when our train is cancelled, when our favourite is off the menu, or when others try to manipulate us. Instead we can use our energy to focus on what’s good about the world, and work to create more of that.
Love, peace, kindness and empathy are not a cop out, they’re civil disobedience. They’re refusing to be a puppet. They’re thinking for ourselves and not having our value systems dictated to us. They are an act of resistance and rebellion.
While the rest of the world is on fire we can build an oasis and let it spread. One person at a time. One community and a time. One nation at a time. It may take a hundred years. It may take a thousand. It may never happen, but the main thing is that we try.
Join the resistance and make inner peace your identity, kindness your strategy, and empathy your philosophy. Let’s change the world.