– Joseph Turiano, MHt
These are seemingly turbulent times. Changes and political conflicts are taking place. There is a good deal of anger. Widespread emotional upset goes with the changes. Conflicts are all around.
Some people have chosen anger. They seem willing to act on their anger to the point of violence. Dealing with these people socially is a challenge. Dealing with angry people in a family or work setting is also a challenge. In both our personal lives and in politics, the question of how to deal with anger is an important one.
What does anger do to society?
Under normal circumstances, the people who advocate for social justice find common ground with spiritual believers. They believe in personal and inner transformation. But at certain times, there is disagreement.
In politically turbulent times, some people say, “If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention.” Spiritual thinkers tend to see things differently. They question what anger does to society and the individuals who harbor it.
Anger According to Buddhism
According to Buddhism, anger is destructive. The Buddha famously said that anger is like drinking poison, expecting your enemy to die.
Political activists often use anger as a motivating force. They insist on a right to be angry. Everyone has a right to their opinions and feelings. But real change seldom comes from anger. Anger has hidden negative implications.
What if anger goes unchecked?
In therapy or politics, anger has hidden consequences. People who insist on anger become what they judge. Children who hate cold or abusive parents may grow up to be the same. In politics, extreme factions of both right and left are most likely to resort to violence.
Fascists see the world in paranoid fantasy. Totalitarian communists feel exploited or robbed. These extreme factions may create concentration camps, gulags, pogroms, and purges.
Idealistic political leaders like Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King understood compassion. Anger, contempt, and name-calling harden the opposition. They make change more difficult.
Being against anger doesn’t mean complacency. The Dalai Lama and Jesus spoke out against injustice. Speaking out in the right way can help change the world. Anger is like an out-of-control fire. It burns everything in its path, including the one who sets it.
Being too caught up in being right leads to intolerance. It leads to fear of outsiders and conspiracies. It leads to superiority and judgment. It can damage the cause of justice. Sustained anger leads to unhappiness, health problems, psychological problems, and even insanity.
The world has many problems. The problems are serious. Old ways of thinking must change. Injustices need to be addressed. A better way must be discovered.
But anger is often the problem itself. Anger divides. Compassion and understanding create common ground. Anger is a product of fear. The world’s problems were created by fear-based thinking, selfishness, and lack of intelligence.
They can only be solved through love-based thinking, unselfishness, and intelligent thought. Anger never solves the problem. It creates future problems. It delays or prevents just and fair solutions.
If we keep this in mind, we won’t be dragged down into destructive anger. We will protect ourselves and the world around us.