Anger is a powerful tool that, in many circumstances, is the appropriate and most beneficial emotion to be employed. The big brother of anger, rage, is also an emotion that can sometimes be used appropriately. The amount of situations where rage is an appropriate response is small, but certainly present. The problems are not the emotions of rage and anger – the problem is how trivialized they have become.
Anyone who has used social media (so, everyone reading this right now) knows how toxic it can be. The toxicity is not something that is inherent to our psyches, but is something that is borne out of the impotence of the anger and rage that we engage in on a daily basis. Each time that we see an inflammatory picture or post something incendiary ourselves, we engage in this rage that serves no purpose.
This rage is a cancer, one that we can sometimes, quite literally, feel boiling in our chests, flushing our cheeks or clenching our fists against our will. We see words and images on a screen that cause us to react in this rageful manner. Again, the rage is not the issue – it is that it sits inside us with no useful target, nowhere to go except back onto the screen for someone else to experience.
Rage, when used in bringing the rapist to justice, when employed in beneficial social change for those who are underrepresented and repressed; these can be good – these are examples of actionable rage. These are the situations in which rage is good – when it does not just boil inside of us, but bubbles up and out of our mouths, when it clenches our fists, when it sets our feet to marching. This is when rage is good – when it can be used.
So stop scrolling. Stop reading these little thought exercises that I write. Stop engaging in the rage that does nothing but boil and corrode our insides. Go outside and attack the injustices – give the homeless man 5 bucks. March in the streets about the corrupt politician (don’t just stop at the ballot box). Clench your fists and raise your voice – don’t just type something on the screen to start the boil in the next person’s stomach.