“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” — attributed to St. Augustine
I have been an angry person this summer.
Part of it, I firmly believe, has to do with my work schedule. I’m working long hours at stressful jobs, and when I come home at night, I am spent in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion is probably not the best way to set yourself up for a cheery disposition.
But an even bigger cause of this sudden anger problem has to do with my recent foray into social justice. Not that I haven’t always been at least tangentially interested in the subject, but my knowledge has been snowballing over the past few months from the understanding that things aren’t how they should be into a heightened awareness of the deep, permeating injustices in the world.
And let me tell you, friends. Such an awareness will make you angry.
I get angry when I see the way that minorities are told to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, when the only boots in the picture are the invisible boots of white privilege that are pushing minorities down in the first place.
I get angry when I see the way women are treated around the world- beaten, abused, raped, tortured, murdered- and how the response from otherwise decent human beings is to laugh it off or ignore it.
I get angry when I see the statistics on LGBT youth who are living on the streets because their parents kicked them out of their homes.
I get angry when my medical needs are viewed as nothing more than a headache for potential employers, as if their annoyances trump my health.
I get angry when the people who lash out at women for ending their pregnancies are the same people who wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help those women had they made another choice.
I get angry when, instead of working to curb the damage that we humans are doing to this earth, we refuse to accept that anything needs fixing
I get angry when your abstract opinion of “freedom”, religious or otherwise, trumps the very concrete problems of people who desperately need healthcare reform.
There is so much more I could list, but I’ve made my point.
I’m so tired of feeling angry. (I’m also just tired, but that’s another story.) I don’t want this anger to define me; I don’t want it to affect my ability to love people, even if I disagree with them, and I don’t want it to tarnish my ability to enjoy the truly beautiful parts of life. I want to be happy, I just don’t know how to look past these awful, awful problems that I see in the world that make me mad.
I’m also tired of being too tired to help solve the problems that bother me the most. The best solution to my anger would be to turn it into momentum for social change, but when I get home at the end of the day, I’m lucky if I have enough energy to make dinner for myself, let alone join a revolution. My general fatigue is spiraling into compassion fatigue, and that’s the last thing I want to happen.
I suppose one solution would be to stick my head in the sand, ignore it all, and spend my time watching cat videos on Youtube. But that isn’t in my nature, and I think it’s disrespectful to all of the people who can’t ignore these realities, because they’re living them.
I believe, as one of my favorite bloggers recently put it, that a lack of anger reveals a lack of love. If you’re not angry about the harm being caused to your fellow man and the planet you live on, then what does it say about your love for either? But with that anger should come courage, the second of Hope’s daughters, which makes positive change possible. And right now, I just feel like I’m spoiling Hope’s first daughter and neglecting the second, because I don’t have the energy to nurture two children, and anger is easier than action.
I know I’m not the only person who feels this way- I see it come up a lot on some of my favorite blogs, and I’m sure some of you must have felt this frustration too. How do you cope with anger at the injustice in the world, especially when you feel like there’s nothing you can do to change it? How do you keep anger from eating you alive, and harness it into a force for good?
Or is this just me, dealing with what might seem to be the extremely delayed arrival of my teenage angstiness?
Maybe things will get better once my schedule frees up and I’m back in a college environment, but until then, if you have any suggestions, please let me know. I am so tired of living in this limbo of awareness without action, anger without outlet.