On Anger


First of all, it’s impolite, and somehow being polite was drilled into me as an early golden rule. If offered a blindfold by your executioner, say “Yes, please. Thank you, sir (or madam as the case may be).” I was raised by women, including nuns. Only God was allowed anger, and maybe sometimes those specially anointed in His employ. Anger was disruptive. Anger was a punishable offense. The slightest spit of choler would get thee to the office.

            Secondly, wrath is one of the seven deadly sins, along with greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Sins are bad. Sins are basic human needs that have become individually obsessive, cancerous. Being mildly put-off by being bitten by your neighbor’s dog is understandable. Breaking all the dog’s long bones and skull with your baseball bat is considered excessive.  

            Thirdly, anger is not cool. By allowing yourself to become enraged you only empower the provocateur. A bigger man would only laugh at such absurdities. Why the bitch barely broke my skin. I’ve been attacked by far more fearsome beasts. Anyway, the threat of rage is a more effective weapon than rage itself. Rampage is an ejaculation, invariably followed by detumescence.

            And besides, with whom are you really angry? With those who persecute you or with you yourself for getting yourself in the position of persecutee? Predators always attack weaknesses. Is your weakness a lack of patience or an inflated sense of self-worth? What makes you so vulnerable as to arouse your fury? Of course they’re all imbeciles, but do they deserve your ire?

            On the side of anger are its occasional cognates—impassioned and loss of temper. For what is a life without sometimes irrational passions? And what is lost when your temper is lost but a hold someone else once placed upon your emotions? I have been angry. It chews on your soul, but the pain keeps you lucid. Otherwise it is useless. But one thing is clear—there’s no point in dying pissed-off.

            Revenge is sweet. It is also said to be best served cold, which makes it ice cream or sherbet I guess. I see a lot of angry people these days. It’s like being angry is in the Bill of Rights. Americans who have more of everything than anyone else has ever had before are angry when they’re asked to share. Some folks are angry about what other folks do in private with their bodies. There are obese people angry about what they eat, idiots enraged at those who ignore them, conspiracy theorists at war with the truth.

            To be real, it seems. you must have a personal grievance (or two). Cigarette smoke, human carnivores, big box stores, immigrants, socialists, atheists, neo-Nazis, freeloaders, other people’s phobias, “them.” By their grievance you shall know them. Just saying. It’s our new America. Fight or flight? We’re just another species on the way out anyway.  

            Fear is the embryo where anger grows. We Americans are as safe as a people have ever been, but we have not lost the ancient instinct to fear. It’s like an immune system left with nothing to fight except itself. The wolf at your door is in your mind. Ask him in. It’s your neighbor, come to apologize about the dog.    

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