Sunday, September 30, 2018

Anger is passive. Rage is a trigger for action

If you are angry today, or if you have been angry for a while, and you’re wondering whether you’re allowed to be as angry as you feel, let me say: Yes. Yes, you are allowed. You are, in fact, compelled.

If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.  

Thus writes Rebecca Traister in the New York Times.

As someone who's been angry about politics for more years than I can count, I've been told more than once that anger is toxic, that it eats away at your health, that it hurts no one but the self.  But there's anger, and there's anger.  There's the anger you feel at your husband because you're working 14-hour days and he can't seem to remember that you asked him to make a vet appointment for the cat because you're in meetings all day.  Or more trivially, that he never puts the toilet seat down (solution to that one:  always check).  That's the kind of anger that you kind of have put into perspective, lest it REALLLY give you health problems.  The anger at the driver that cut you off.  Anger at the flight attendant who fat-shamed you.  Those are the kinds of fleeting angers that maybe we do need to let go of.

But then there's institutional anger, such as we're seeing now. It flares up every now and then and then fades.  So let's stop talking about anger and start talking about rage.  Because anger is a feeling.  Rage is a trigger for action.  There is no better example of rage --> action than the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School kids.  They too are victims of trauma caused by toxic masculinity, but within 24 hours after the event that changed their lives, they managed to channel their grief and anger into a rage that has not abated even though the hip-hop stars and celebrities have gone home.

I've become skeptical of marches.  500,000 people marched in New York City in 2002 and we went to war in Iraq anyway.  How many millions of women and our allies marched in cities across the country after Trump's inauguration.  And what was the end result?  You can argue that it was a trigger for more women -- progressive women --  running for office, and that is a valid point.  But it remains to be seen how many of them will actually win, and even if they do, how many will be kneecapped by the Democratic Party in order to perpetuate the sternly worded statement --> dire e-mails --> corporate money --> consultant coffers --> failure cycle that has characterized the Democratic Party every election since 1980, except when a figure like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama comes along who's so charismatic that it supersedes everything else.

Marches make us feel good, sort of the way blogging used to.  It makes us feel like we're part of something BIG, something that's going to Really Do Something This Time.  So we put on the pussy hats and we march and we chant and we yell and listen to famous people speak and take selfies with them while they march.  We enjoy the free concert and  we feel really exhilarated by the solidarity -- and then we go home and nothing changes. 

Last spring we had the March For Our Lives -- another massive, multi-city march put together by a bunch of raging teenagers.  And we marched.  We chanted and we yelled and enjoyed the free concert and felt really exhilarated by the solidarity -- and then we went home and now at least 63 school shootings have taken place in 2018, including the Parkland shooting.  And aside from a ban on bump stocks signed by Rick Scott, who is trying to get to the Senate, nothing has changed.  And Joe Manchin has to use a gun in an ad about health care to show his penis-symbol bona fides in a state the residents of which care more about what other women do with their genitals than their own economic situation. 

We will know more about whether anything has changed after the election next month.  But in the mean time, nearly two years after the women's march, here we are, with a woman who was sexually assaulted when she was fifteen being called a skank and a whore and a liar, and a preppy, possibly alcoholic fratboy, who was no doubt told from the day he was born that he was special and entitled to everything he wanted, throwing a tantrum on national television because a woman no less might stand in the way of his getting what he regards as his DUE -- a lifetime appointment on the highest court in this country.  It took two women screaming at Jeff Flake to even get a delay long enough to look at the long anecdotal trail of appalling behavior towards women of this Court nominee, pushed forward by a president with his own well-known record of appalling behavior towards women.  But don't kid yourself.  Flake, along with Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and yes, the aforementioned Joe Manchin, will vote for this guy.   Because a six figure government paycheck and benefits that most Americans no longer have is just too sweet to risk on doing the right thing for this country's women.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam. Spammers please note: Your comments WILL be deleted without being published.