Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Anger: Vice… or Virtue?

I’ve always been someone who loses her temper easily. Everyone who is close to me know that I can fly off the handle quickly – you can say that my short temper is one of my flaws. I do think that I’ve somewhat learnt to control it – although I agree that I have a long way to go still. Now, I accept that blowing your fuse at the drop of a hat is definitely not a good idea, yes blind fury can be dangerous. However I also believe that the sentiment of anger has received far too much flak. It has even earned a spot among the 7 deadly sins. True, too much of anger is bad – but does anger by itself deserve to be tagged as an inexcusable vice? Is there not such a thing as "responsible anger"?

There are times in life when one needs to get angry. Take for instance the recent public outrage on women’s safety in India. It was only because the people of India were angry at the injustice meted out to one unfortunate young woman in December, that today women’s safety is being discussed at the international level and both the people and the government are atleast beginning to sit up and take notice.

Or let’s talk about the recent news about IPL spot-fixing. Were you not angry that a few louts cheated an entire nation? Your anger is justified. Or when you hear about child sexual abuse? When you see an alcoholic husband abusing his wife? Or when you find out that your partner has been cheating on you? When a rogue hand in a crowded bus sneaks up and pinches you? Should one not get angry? Well, I think you should. You have every right to be angry. You deserve to be angry. 

Some people may ask – what is the point of getting angry? What is it going to achieve? Indeed it is anger that prompts us into action. Whether that action is positive or negative is upto you. When someone passes a sexist comment on you and you don’t get angry, it simply means that you are too conditioned to accept sexism. You need to get angry. But if you get angry and then declare to the world that all men are perverts, that is not only stupid but it is also useless. Instead if you channel that anger and talk about it to spread awareness about sexual harassment, that positive action validates your anger. 

If you are stuck in an abusive relationship and allow yourself to be exploited instead of getting angry that you are being ill-treated, it can mean that you don’t love or value yourself enough. When you choose to leave a cheating partner, there will be nights when you feel all alone and miserable; when the urge to call him/her is eating you alive. But then, deep down, that tiny spark of anger must burn – reminding you of all the times that the jerk has let you down and hurt you and broke your trust. And that anger will give you the strength to help you let go of any self-pity or remorse and move on with your life. 

Or even getting angry with yourself. If you've set a goal and find yourself slacking simply due to laziness, get angry with yourself. Scold yourself . You don't have to put yourself down but you could give yourself a pep talk - by being angry at your laziness - and push yourself to achieve your goal.

In fact, I think more people should get angry. Angry enough to stop paying bribes and to report corruption. Angry enough to vote for responsible leaders and throw out the useless ones who have been looting the country forever. Angry enough to stand up and raise your voice against inequality. Angry enough to question wrong-doing.

People say that we can achieve true happiness when we are not affected by external stigma – but when you read about an 8 year old girl who was raped by a 60 year old man – your blood should boil; you should be outraged; your conscience must be troubled. Even the Gods get angry - Jesus got angry when he saw that the sacred temple of God had turned into a dirty marketplace, Kali is known for her fierce temper and Shiva’s temper is feared by one and all. And if the Gods themselves can lose their tempers, surely we mortals are allowed to get angry?

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