Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Anger is an unacceptable emotion in our society… or is it?

Posted on December 03, 2016 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Elyssa Morse, Contributor

Anger. It’s a word that evokes strong reactions from people, often reactions of fear. But why is that? We aren’t afraid of other people when they’re sad, happy, excited or mellow, but when people become angry, many of us feel a strong urge to run away.

I think it’s because most of us associate anger with negative situations, whether that be from our past or from the media. Whenever someone is angry the media often portrays this emotion as being associated with violence. Something we are not told to think about is that anger doesn’t imply violence.

Most individuals believe that anger should be associated with violence because our society has conditioned us to feel that way. However, anger is just like any other emotion. It must be expressed, otherwise it can come out in unhealthy ways. Anger can be expressed through words or art. Anger is a valid emotion that should be expressed without offending people.

Why am I sharing my point of view on anger? Because anger is in the air right now. Since the election, many emotions have been washing over people. These emotions range from fear to sadness to anger and, for some, even happiness. For those of us upset by the election, we have been gathering for protests, vigils and supportive events. I’m glad to see we’re coming together in such dangerous times, but there is one thing these gatherings lack and that is anger.

The few marches and protests I’ve gone to since the election have spread messages like “unity” and, more popular, “Love trumps hate.” I’m not saying these slogans are invalid or useless. I’m simply suggesting that these statements are too idealistic.

We should come together as a people for “unity,” to overthrow the broken system we live under, or at least get Trump out of the White House. However, we as citizens of the United States cannot unite until we recognize and learn to accept our differences. We have to acknowledge the privileges we have, either as white people, males, heterosexuals or whatever it may be. We must constantly police ourselves, whether it be for internalized misogyny, racism, transphobia, heterosexism and ableism. I really wish we could all instantly unite and create a truly democratic system, but unity doesn’t mean anything until we hold ourselves accountable.

Love and unity, then, go hand-in-hand, because we must love and  appreciate one another in order to be unified. That’s why the post-election slogan “Love trumps hate” has been popular. Love is a wonderful thing. I am not anti-love, and I am not pro-hate. And yes, love can trump hate in interpersonal situations. Yet, on a societal level, love cannot trump hate. I think we should be showing each other love and support in our communities, especially to vulnerable individuals. But when it comes to creating societal/systemic change, love isn’t going to cut it.  

Love isn’t enough because our government creates policies that will increase profits for corporations. To our government money is more important than human lives. We can see that right now in Standing Rock, where peaceful protesters are shot by rubber bullets, kept up all night by low-flying helicopters and sprayed with water in sub-zero temperatures. All for the sake of oil.

This is where anger comes in. Yes, love people in your community, but harness your anger and use it to be proactive! Thinking about the injustice transpiring in this country right now makes me so angry and makes  me want to go scream until my vocal chords hurt at these protests. Call Senator King, connect with social justice organizations and let your voices be heard when you witness harassment, racism, sexism, etc. Anger can be used in many ways that are far from violent. Anger was the driving force behind America’s most significant movements. Boxes of tea were thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party in 1773, Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat in the front of the bus, a transgender person of color started the Stonewall riots that marked the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement.

It doesn’t feel right for me to chant “Love trumps hate,” because I simply don’t believe that in this context. Something I can chant with conviction that is much more accurate with how change has transpired throughout history is “No justice, no peace.”


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