Strip of weathered metal, curving into background

Anger, and where we direct it

Of all the anger we often, quite rightly, feel in life, how much ever finds its rightful target? Aren’t a lot of our irritants remote and inaccessible? These distant, near-imaginary people we can never hope will appreciate the pain they’ve caused. Or, problems closer to home we mightn’t be able to resolve. Sometimes it just seems we’re stuck with many un-addressable things, and a lot of stagnant emotion.

Maybe it’s “modern global reality” or “life with technology”, but it seems that anger can easily be misdirected. That we might be angry about events far beyond our control, leaving us with potentially futile free-floating emotions of little productive use. Our indignation sparked off by systemic, conceptual flaws we ourselves are relatively powerless to fix.

Or, the words and sentiments of others can enrage us – all this content that’s churned out each day as people from vastly differing backgrounds join in this one, fairly unregulated conversation. Aware as we may be that words can cause incredible harm and erroneous ideas can grow to troublesome proportions away from careful observation, we perhaps hope to eliminate them before damage is done.

Within all that, aren’t we generally left with a lot of directionless, unresolved emotion? Almost as if we might start to live with this undercurrent of anger – or, sadness – at the state of the world and the people living within it. This simmering resentment, despair or frustration that often seems to be just below the surface, ready to burst into flame at any relatively minor infringement that happens around us. (Notes One)

Aren’t we aware of a great deal, these days? The ins and outs of politics, international affairs and individual lives being thrust before us at every moment. So much analysis, so many updates and topics we’re conceivably meant to keep track of and follow along with as concerned citizens and members of humanity. So much we could – probably, should – choose to care deeply about. (Notes Two)

As humans living within arguably quite flawed social systems, where are we to direct our anger? Do we fight one another, or those in positions of authority? Are our battles ideological or practical? Is it the people currently at the helm of potentially misguided ships that merit our frustrations – those shaped by and defending it – or the ones struggling under the difficulties that set in motion?

Are we to get angry at the causes or manifestations? Given how they blend together as what we simplistically call “life”, it’s perhaps impossible to separate the two: isn’t it all flowing through the complex fabric of our everyday realities? Seeing what truly caused something – where blame actually lies – mightn’t be straightforward. Like a game of pass-the-parcel where “someone” ends up seeming to be in the wrong.

In the words of Aristotle, “to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

Notes and References:

Note 1: Does anger ever, truly, help?
Note 1: Humans, judgement & shutting down
Note 1: Is telling people what we want to be true a lie?
Note 2: Where’s the reset button & can we press it?
Note 2: Reading between the lines
Note 2: What’s the right mindset for news?

Finding a good balance between the fierceness of thought and tenderness of emotion was also one element of Sensitivity & the place for feeling.

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