Middle East Rage
Two weeks ago, at the height of the riots in the Middle East and elsewhere over a bad (and fraudulent) You Tube video, a friend asked me if I would be writing about the price of Rage and Anger in this case. I had thought about it, but I felt I needed to find the right handle. This is first and foremost a Heathen blog on Rage and Anger and not a place where I feel a need to argue politics or comment on Abrahamic faiths. How could I manage to stay true to that and still comment? It took quite some time to find the right approach along with struggling with various life issues. So, here it is:
Recognizing and accepting Anger and Rage (as well as other Passions) also requires taking responsibility for our actions in relation to them and recognizing the limitations we endure when angry or strongly affected. Most importantly, in this case, is that being strongly ruled by anger can make us very vulnerable to manipulation. While I will refer to modern brain science in this blog, what we see here is the very ancient technique of a demagogue manipulating a mob by using their anger as a tool to get the desired results. This goes back to ancient Rome and further and was, to a degree, why our Founding Fathers instituted the Electoral College.
Anger in this case can be referred to as Defensive Aggression. When we reach that stage do not handle what is sometimes called Anger Activation, we can end up: misreading the things we see, be too quick to anger, jump at the first option, give too strong a response or engage in impulsive or excessive behavior (1). These traits also make us easy targets for those aware of our feelings and limitations. Do we really want to work on our own leash or Gleipnir and then just hand it of to some self serving manipulator? I think this dishonors us, our work and whatever faith we are following.
So, as those either pursuing a “Fire” path or on one, what should we do? I am actually going to attempt to list a technique as I see it. This is a rather new thing for me, so feel free to comment or ask questions.
1) Meditate to get to a calmer state
2) Look at your Anger and seek the root cause and what is truly upsetting you
3) In this calmer state, judge how legitimate this Anger is. Is this something major that bears more action (injustice, threat, difficulty with a relationship, shameful and unacceptable treatment) or is this something minor that has escalated too far (cut off in traffic, random insult on the street, a friend’s thoughtless comment on Facebook)?
4) If this is a major issue, face the Anger and feel it. Then step back a few paces, leash your anger and use your Reason to determine a reasonable course of action. Use Anger or Passion to fuel your motivation and Reason and the counsel of knowledgeable people to determine the proper course of action.
5) If you determine that this is a more minor issue, the initial part is the same. Face the Anger and feel it, but when you step back look at the leash as a way for you to control yourself and prepare to move forward. The feeling was valid, but it is time to bank that fire and continue with more important things.
6) If this is an early attempt, make sure to celebrate your own success in leashing this. It is not always an easy thing to do this, especially if this was a major issue but even minor successes are important.
In time, I have found that while I still feel strongly and can get quite angry, the feeling passes quickly and I move on. I am also told that I am a much happier and pleasant person. In fact, some people refuse to believe that I get angry. I also feel more alive and empowered.
So, there you have it, commentary on the issue without any real religious or political views at all.
(1) Healing the Angry Brain, Ronald Potter-Efron, 2012, Chapter 3