I find anger has been getting a bum rap lately, and so I thought I would find my voice in defence of this basic human emotion:
Anger is a sign of respect; it requires engagement and enables change. Think about it: if I allow myself to be furious with someone’s behaviour, it is because I am able to distinguish the person I love from his conduct, and, more importantly, I recognize his agency. It would be absolutely futile to be angry with someone if I regarded his behaviour as necessary. Anger is a call to freedom. I am forever indebted to those who dared to get angry with me: they are the ones who forced me to bump up against my own limitations and called me to transcend them. Relationships fail in the absence of anger.
A failure to express anger leads to impotence: sexually, personally, and politically. Uninhibited anger is one of the surest signs of a good bed mate and responsible citizen.
Anger is the agent of change. Suppression reinforces the status quo. I am encouraged by parents who allow their children to get angry with them. This cultivates citizens who can stand up for themselves. If children cannot stand the heat in the kitchen, how the hell can we expect them to stand up for their rights and freedoms in the political arena?
Anger is what safe guards our ability to enjoy the pleasures of life.
If we don’t learn to harness our own anger it wreaks havoc on our bodies. I have learned to trade a urinary tract infection in for a bout of uninhibited anger, which ranks among the most empowering experiences I’ve had to date.
Clear, rational anger relieves anxiety and agitation. When we direct our anger at what is inhibiting us from doing our work in the world, it no longer comes out in pathetic ways. Road rage is the result of stifled anger, not anger pure and simple.
The surest way to get a battered woman out of her oppressive situation is to incite her anger. Women have, for centuries, been made to feel guilty about their anger, and we wonder why they have been systematically marginalized in the political arena. Give me a fiery woman any day.
Getting comfortable with anger fosters community. It is fear of anger that perpetuates the view that government is necessary to keep human nature – – nasty, brutish, and short – – in check. Those who allow anger to be unleashed, discover that it is nothing more than an expression of love and do not equate anarchy with mayhem. Compare Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents with Reich’s Children of the Future.