Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A Problem with Anger?

The de rigueur anthem to be sung right now is Oasis’s “Don’t look back in anger.” The girlfriend of a man butchered in Borough Market, obviously seething with rage, spluttered that she mustn’t be angry because her boyfriend would not have approved. It is a strange spectacle when one has to disown and repress one’s most powerful feelings as if they are not to be trusted and can only lead to further disaster. For me it’s a kind of unhealthy self-loathing that will lead to passive aggression because aggression is not given its head and has to come out somewhere. It also informs the self-loathing of the left in political discourse. We all have to be perfect pacifists all the time because it's 'common' or unsaintly (like we all aspire to be saints!) to be aggressive.
How about experimenting with the opposite side of the coin? Let’s assume that this kind of feeling arises inside one because it is perfectly justifiable for it to arise. Someone slaughters an innocent man in the street and you feel angry. Where’s the problem? Why do we have to be scared of ourselves? Perhaps because we are too high falutin’ to admit that we have such feelings. Aggression is too base. Perhaps such feelings might, however, inform one’s resolve and the resolve of those responsible for conducting a response. In a fight it has been suggested that aggression can be useful in winning that fight. The anger of some drinkers in Borough Market provided the adrenaline that enabled them to fight back against the knifemen. The story goes that being peaceful in all situations, however blood-spattered, is the more civilized option. Sometimes this is simply the preciousness and moral fastidiousness of people too concerned with their reputation for purity to get their hands dirty. It’s excruciating to watch the contortions of those who won’t “own” their own feelings and speaks of our embarrassment confronted with the blessing of our full humanity. It has also been suggested that anger is one of the chief creative forces in the world.

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