Friday, 23 November 2018

Tweeting to the #Dalai Lama on #Anger


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.    Dalai Lama
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@DalaiLama
 3h3 hours ago

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Human beings are social animals. What brings us together is love and affection—anger drives us apart. Just as we employ physical hygiene to protect our health, we need emotional hygiene, the means to tackle our destructive emotions, if we are to achieve peace of mind.

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Replying to ‪‪@DalaiLama
I don't think anger is always destructive. Wisely channelled, it is a God given emotion that can be used to tackle injustices in the world.

I can’t imagine that was the actual DL’s tweet, to which I was responding, but I am fed up with the portrayal of anger as a solely destructive emotion. I believe anger is a God-given. He/She or She/He if you prefer, got angry as well, if you believe the bible – see God’s anger at the behaviour of the Israelites in the OT and Jesus overturning the tables of peddlers in the temple in the NT. Why was Jesus angry? Injustice. Why was God angry? Indignation at the ingratitude of his squabbling people who were after all, en route to the promised land, miracles and manna freely supplied.

I’m starting a new paragraph here so as not to align myself with Jesus, though I certainly try to follow him, hapless and unfaithful as my meandering might be. My childhood family were always berating me for ‘being angry,’ which enabled (perfect verb for it) them to blame me for all manner of ills from the babyhood to adulthood. As I often, out of sheer exasperation pointed out, anger is the appropriate response to being cruelly treated and abused, the details of which I will not go into here. Anger can be powerfully motivating. Would apartheid have ended without those of us who hated it actually protesting? Would Wilberforce have succeeded in his role as an abolitionist had he not been angry enough to do something about it? 

I’m not suggesting we all go around in a blind fury, but without anger giving rise to our, in my view, God-given desire for justice and a better society for all, be that in the family, the workplace or indeed the country at large, we’d all be lulled into a passive aggressive bitter fug of ineptitude and our societies would pay the price. As for me, I’m staying angry until the injustices of the world go away. Not all the time of course.

Joy is the antidote to toxic anger. Health-wise, anger must have a point and needs to be trained in that particular direction so as not spill over or escape unchecked into other areas of life – that’s blighting bitterness. Forgiveness, and separating forgiveness from justice is a separate issue and one for another day. Meantime, stay angry where you need to and do something with this powerful weapon, but make sure you keep the safety on. Unchecked, anger can fire all over the place.

Anger is an important emotion when it is controlled and channelled in the right way. Let anger lead to activism, creativity: transformation. Even empathy and healing. The skill is to control the anger rather than have the anger control you.


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