How and why you should accept and use your anger now

Over the past eight months I have been told a number of times that I seem angry, or that I look angry or that I sound angry. It was always said with a fake concern and an underlining scorn, to keep me in check and to remind me not to show anger publicly, on my social media or while discussing a subject.

I was told to check my anger issues by an ex-bookclub friend, a woman who barely knew me but who felt entitled to tell me what I should and shouldn’t write about and how I should behave. Interestingly enough I was also told that I seem ” too angry” by a couple of distant family members.

Now, usually in a situation like this I do stop and ask myself- if so many people said it- from family members to acquaintances, then maybe indeed the problem is me?

But here’s the thing. I am angry. I’m actually full of rage. I could fume and burn with it. I have been bearing witness to a genecoide for the past 8 months. I have seen the limp bodies of countless babies, toddlers with indescribable wounds, children who went through amputations without anesthesia, wailing mothers who lost all of their children, fathers picking up pieces of their killed kids with their hands, orphans taking care of their siblings while living in tents without adequate food.. the list goes on. The images I’ve seen will hunt me all my life.

And what’s very interesting is that all of these woman who told me to work on my anger clearly haven’t seen any of these. Instead they told me to read less news. To stop obsessing over something so far away. To work on my anger.

But bearing witness to oppression, murder, dismembering should make people angry. Bearing witness to the unbelievable massacres committed daily should make everyone enraged. Learning about an apartheid system that was there all along under our noses should make us feel livid. It’s the correct biological reaction when we see children being murdered. We evolved to feel anger in face of danger and injustice.

So why do these woman and so many thousands of others don’t feel anger? Is it because they where raised with the notion that ” the lady acts calm and does not show anger” ? Probably. It’s a very white thing we have going on for us. Comes all the way from England in Middle Ages when women from upper class where told to stop with the work nonsense and become ladies. It took around 200 years to put in place but it worked very well. Women who have previously managed big estates of their families, took care of family businesses and healed community members where persuaded to become “a lady” ; a woman of no occupation other that staying home and breeding heirs. A lady had a right to hobbies and meetings with other ladies. But she could not vote, take part in public life and under any circumstances get angry. Of course these notions did not include working class woman as these where supposed to be working like animals. Long hours, without a peep and barley paid for their labour.

Then the notion of a lady was spread around the western world with the colonisation of the New World by the British empire, and now is still served to us under a disguise of learning to be nice and polite. So of course white woman will scold other white woman for acting out of place.

Though maybe they also choose not to see these images and read these stories ? Because if they would see the burned babies and dismembered children- they would feel emotions that they don’t let themselves feel and express.

Here’s the thing- a lot of woman I spoke to say they feel helpless in face of children suffering and they choose not to read any more news. They choose to tune out. In order to stay in place and not show anger, they choose to ignore what is happening and have only a vague sense of understanding. Which in turn makes them feel helpless.

Now, nobody likes the feeling of helplessness, so the next step is apathy. Cutting off emotions all together makes it easier to look the other way and ignore the unpleasant feelings and disturbing news. Of course seeing other white woman angry is a nuisance, hence the need to scold and say “take your anger in check”.

And yet, ager propulses us to act. Anger gives us energy. Anger makes us active. We need anger. Just like any other emotion it’s an information that we have from our most primitive brain that helped us survive for millions of years. Anger is an information that something is horribly wrong and we need to take action now. Anger is the opposite of apathy. Because while apathy will propulse people to say things like ” it’s too complicated” , and ” there’s nothing I can do about this” and ” It’s none of my business” anger will push people to take action.

So in face of a genocide what can we do? One optionis to ignore it and fall into apathy while holding our anger at bay as a proper lady should.

Or we can accept our anger and let it guide us in to action. We can start by educating ourselves. We can join the protests and marches. We can donate money, we can create engaged art. We can ask people who are organizing how we can help them – the students protesting often need supplies that we can bring them. We can encourage others who have lost their hope. We can cry with the crying and we can scream in anger with the enraged. We can act thanks to our anger.

Ergo, I have checked my anger and I’m proud to say it’s still there burning like a flame, big and fuming and unceasing. It leads me to join protests both in Montreal and in Ottawa, in rain and in snow, it fuels my motivation to learn and read, it guides me into painting symbolic art for a free Palestine. Now I have pomegranates and watermelons all around my home and it’s safe to say my anger is here to stay!

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