Saturday, January 29, 2011
When Is It GOOD To Get Angry?
Have you ever noticed that we get angry (or at least show it) only with those who we think are weaker than us? Thus it seems OK for parents or teachers to be angry with children, for officers and trainers to shout at teachers. But if children are angry with adults, even if they are in the right and the adult is in the wrong, it is considered NOT OK! And teachers, when upset with their so-called 'superiors' either keep quiet or make some sort of mild protest. Only occasionally does it boil over, and when it does, it is again considered NOT OK!
So what is the view we should take? Is it a good idea not to get angry at all? This is the advocated position of many. In fact there are training programmes (including those for teachers) on anger management (i.e., about managing the anger we show to those who we consider our 'inferiors'). These include things called 'positive discipline' and 'emotional punishment' – as if it is OK to do the same old thing in another way.
In case this is not clear, the 'same old thing' means the belief that it is OK for adults to have power over children, or for some to be considered 'superiors' of others. The 'anger management' and 'positive' approach does not question this right to discipline or punish – it only says 'do it less violently please, but do it because you have a right to do it.' Something wrong there, isn't it?
The other approach would be – get angry wherever you should! That is, if you are in the right, get angry with your boss or with the adult (if you are a child or an adolescent), if they are in the wrong. Do I hear you clicking your tongue again? Something doesn't sound QUITE OK about this, isn't it? How can those who are 'below' scream at those who are 'above'? You fear it will lead to conflict, division and general breakdown of order (i.e. of who should listen to whom).
Hmm, perhaps this kind of all-round getting angry business won't really help. We're too scared of it anyway.
But it also seems there are areas where we SHOULD GET ANGRY – and we don't. When a child is molested or deprived or hurt or demeaned – we don't see much anger. When teachers who really want to teach better and teach differently are ridiculed to the extent that they give up trying to improve – we see NO anger. When a girl is brutalized (or even killed) because she refused to get married at 14, we don't seethe with anger! When an education system is run year after year and the children who've invested their entire childhood in it, emerge without any learning to show for it – we are simply not consumed with anger!
IT – IS – NOT – OK.
WE MUST – REPEAT, MUST –
Go out. Get angry. Preserve this anger. Don't let it dry up. Spend it - drop by drop. Keep at it. And at it. Till that which makes you angry is snuffed out. Totally.