Friday, 26 August 2016

Righteous Rage

Everybody gets angry. At least, everyone seems to, and I think it's important to understand what makes us angry so that we can avoid losing our temper, and figuring out how to avoid making others angry.
However, lately, I've developed a new habit which can show how anger does not have to be something we all avoid. In fact, anger can be one of the more beneficial emotions. The word of the day is: 'ANGER'.

Anger /'anggə/ n. 1. A strongly felt displeasure caused by real or supposed wrongs; wrath; ire. ♦v.t. 2. To excite to anger or violence.

I don't know if you've seen the movie Inside Out, it's a good movie, not the best from Pixar, but the basic premise is that all of the emotions in someone's head are anthropomorphised, and each has a specific job. "Joy" makes us seek out good things, "Disgust" avoids unhealthy things, "Anger" seeks out fairness, "Fear" avoids dangerous things & "Sadness", well . . . that's the point of the movie. But, we can avoid spoilers because I'm talking about anger, and as the movie explains, Anger has a purpose, we get angry when things are unfair, or when we see things as being unfair or wrong.

But there is a problem and that is that emotions, whilst they may have a "purpose", are not always very neat and tidy. We can lose our temper and hurt ourselves, hurt others, break things and lash out. Some people can't manage their anger. Especially young kids, when they get angry they tend to scream, throw things and hit their friends, parents and teachers. In fact, for the most part, when people get angry we just tell them to "calm down", because we don't know how to handle it, and we know it will get in the way.
Whilst I think you should do more than tell people to calm down, I'm not suggesting that you should just let people be angry, some people don't know how to handle their anger. However, I believe there's more to anger than just "the emotion that makes you break things when you feel like life's unfair".

I use anger, myself, in a few ways. I use my distaste to come up with cutting and intelligent insults & I use my anger as a thermometer of my mental state, and if I am getting angry, I may use that as a sign I need to change something.
But what I want to talk about today is the way that I use my anger to learn.

The last two posts I wrote for this blog were, in fact, examples of me using my anger as inspiration for blog posts. I wrote Unsafe & Unschooled because I was working in a café within a church which was spreading propaganda against Safe Schools because they wanted to preserve "traditional marriage", and stop transgendered people from using the right bathroom; this made me very angry. And my very last post, Drowning in Hysteria, I talk about it in the post itself, but in general I was noticing more and more examples of radical left-wing socio-politics that I know to be irrational; as someone who leans to the left, this made me very angry.
But those are not the only times anger lead me to an informed rant on this blog.

Respect, or GTFO - I was angry at people mislabelling Feminists.
The Right to Live, and let Live - I was angry at the lies about Euthanasia.
Why I Hate Muslim Men - I was angry at the hypocrisy of an Islamic Apologist.
The Bold and the Bravado - I was angry about common misuse of the word 'Brave'.
Insane Asylum, or How to Get Away with Racism - I was angry about Systemic Xenophobia.
The Twenty-Eighth Amendment - I was angry at the lie of "the Right to Bear Arms".
Who Spoils the Spoilers? - I was angry at people who Spoil stories.
Shallow Depth - I was angry at storytellers that pretended to write Complex Stories
Irrational Pride - I was angry at the way national pride could hide Jingoism.

And that's it. Believe it or not, whilst I may appear to rant and rave an awful lot, some of that is just the passion of my language. But these specific blogposts, I wrote because something made me angry, and that inspired me to talk about it.
I have always considered anger and hatred as a fuel that I can use to do good things, but lately I have learned to turn anger into a positive.
For all of the posts in the list above, my anger made me want to move, and once I gained my composure, I wrote. If you'll excuse my troping, originally my anger was akin to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, I would use my anger as a means to rant once I had control of it. But these days, my anger is more akin to a Tranquil Fury, which was used in my last two posts. I do not just speak out, I use my rage as a means to learn more, and use what I learn to discover the best way to remove that which angered me. My anger does not just seek to resolve these triggers, but it succeeds, and I find I am unable to become angry about these issues again, since I know no way to see them as a problem, and if others present them as a problem, I show them the solution which I have learned.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, I'm not just bragging, I want to encourage you to do this too. This all began because I made a conscious choice, and I think if I can make you choose it too, you can become a better person.

You may now be wondering "what was the choice?" Well, it all began with the Safe Schools debacle. I felt betrayed by people I knew and trusted, I felt like I was indicted in their hatred for supporting their organization, I was frustrated, but more than anything I was angry. These people were homophobic and transphobic, and every fibre of my rational mind knows that that is wrong.
But, I didn't want to hate these people. The habit of dehumanizing, of hating, of thinking people are evil, this is too easy a reflex. I was struggling against it, because the concept made me anxious. These were the people I spent time with every day, which I laughed with, learned from, and in many ways respected. They were suddenly monsters.
I could not respect them, but at the same time I could not demonize them, but they were the "enemy" that as an LGBTQ ally I fight against. So, what could I do?
Well, rather than decide whether they were good or bad, I decided to talk to them. I spoke to my co-worker and asked for them to elaborate on their position.
When I did, I realized that they did have good intentions; and whilst they were wrong, they had the goal of helping kids. So, I came to the conclusion that, no, these people were not monsters, they were just Wrong. Capital "W" wrong. So, I explained what I knew, and tried to convince them. I softened their position somewhat, but after talking for five minutes, I quickly learned that I did not know enough. I knew this was wrong, but I didn't know the details, I didn't know what these policies were, and neither did my co-worker.
So, I was still angry. I was upset, because I had not convinced them of my point, but also I was stuck because I couldn't do more, I lacked the knowledge to make this problem go away. So, when I got home, I had a goal . . . my goal was to learn.
This is the conscious choice I was talking about. When you get angry, you might walk away, you might try to make your anger go away, you might distract yourself or talk to someone else. But I made the conscious decision to fix this problem, so I made a choice and the choice was this:
  "I will make sure that I am right."
Now, whilst the end result was me writing a blog post, that was because I wanted to share what I learned. But what actually calmed me down was not the blog post, it was the learning. I read through both sides of the argument and learned everything I could. My anger gave me the determination to read every single free module of the Safe Schools program, and the fortitude to stomach some of the hate speech and misinformation that was being produced from the propagandists. I not only wanted to, I had to, because I thought I was right, but if I wanted to prove it I would need the evidence, I would need to learn. And because my anger drove me forward, I learned more than I could have if mere idle fascination had inspired me.
Then, once I was done, I knew that I was right. Safe Schools is a program designed to make schools better and safer, and it does, and if you read that blog post I think you will be forced to agree because my evidence is compelling and my rationale is pretty much flawless. When I wrote that blog post, it wasn't out of mere anger, but also excitement at what I had learned. My rage became anxiety, my anxiety became excitement, and now I am nothing but content. I find nothing enraging about Safe Schools because I understand it, and if you don't I will gladly explain it to you (or, at the very least, direct you to my blog post).

Now, I'm not perfect. There are some things that people do which piss me off, and I don't control my anger properly at all times, but I'm still learning and I have already discovered several benefits. Not only have I written another blog post from my controlled anger, but on at least three occasions, I have come across people, religious, homophobic or just being needlessly rude; and rather than get angry and hate them or insult them for being wrong (as an angered person feels they have the right to do), I started to talk to them and ask questions, and engaged in discourse with them. And every time, I found that a conversation which at one time would have become an argument, maintained the level of a debate, and everyone moved on from those conversations having learned something.
Also, I've been using it to help my Beloved, who tends to have a very short fuse, deal with her anger. She is still having a lot of trouble, so I can't guarantee that this advice can teach you all Sagacious Serenity; but I can't see the harm in trying, especially if you are the sort to "fly off the handle" and lose control of your temper, because once you leash such a powerful beast, you will have a powerful ally at your disposal.

If you want to do this, but you're unsure how, I recommend a few things.

Firstly, you should start learning about logic and reason. In fact, do this now. A good place to start is with learning what a "fallacy" is, then looking into how they apply to conversation, reasoning and informal debate. If you want to be right, you should use the most reliable method for discovering and evaluating truth: Reason.
Otherwise, once you discover some fallacy, agenda or lie from those that disagree with you, you may think your work is done. It is not, you must show why it is wrong, or you're no closer to the truth than you were to begin with.

Secondly, remember, the target of your ire is not evil. Everyone is the protagonist of their own life story, and if they are suggesting something you know to be wrong, they are probably wrong or have misinformed opinions. If you are angry at a lesser animal, machine or inanimate object, know that it is just doing as nature intends/it was programmed/physics dictates. It's not evil (or, if it is evil, you'll never fix the issue until you figure out why).

Finally, never forget, be ready to be wrong. Your goal is to be right, so if something you believe is wrong, you need to eliminate it from your beliefs. You can't do that unless you are prepared to be wrong about what you know. If you're not sure how to go about that, go back to my first piece of advice, and learn about logic and reason. This makes everything a lot easier, so do that.

In conclusion, I'm the Absurd Word nerd, and I'm not just making this up from something I've been doing, I know that other people also use their anger for creativity, in fact some people can even us their anger to be inspired, and to inspire others, I know, because some of my favourite creators on YouTube are just people that were mad enough to speak out about something they know to be wrong, not just to rant and make noise, sound and fury, but to make things better. Anger may seem like something cruel, bloody and destructive, but I know from personal experience that some people can use it to create, to learn and even to inspire.
If this doesn't work for you, well, don't go getting angry at me about it . . . at least, not unless you're willing to try to prove yourself right.