We glorify anger. We present and consume revenge sagas, and hate politics. This is an easy narrative because feeling hard done by is a universal experience and few other things incite people to react as blindly. We justify rage reactions, arguing for the right to be furious and citing catchphrases like ‘tone policing’ and ‘right to expression’. We dramatize and applaud wrath. We keep alive an emotional minefield.
We even turn emotionally shut-off, violent, abusive people into role models for masculinity and how the ideal human being at the top should be. Behaving the way your oppressors have behaved with you only makes you part of the problem. Yet, we prize anger like it’s a value.
First, there is dealing with your own anger in a healthy, constructive way rather than allowing it to make you a ravening monster. And then there is navigating a world that prizes wrath.
You can’t avoid angry people or situations that make others and you angry. But you can remember that anger is always, ultimately poisonous. And choose, keep choosing not to consume it. When you do, spit it out like any other rotten thing you may have eaten, sneeze it out like that fiery bit of chilli you breathed. Cry a little, wipe your tears and breathe afresh again. You can own your anger.
What about the anger of others? You do not have to be defined or cowed by other people’s wrath stories. Hold your precious self above the world’s reactions. Protect your hard-earned peace of mind, body and spirit from those who have not yet learnt how to do that for themselves.
There are people who will treat you badly because they think they’re owed a revenge opportunity against the world. It is not your job to educate them. It is not your place to deny them their life lessons. But it is your job to get out of their way. Maybe that is your life lesson.