In Defense of Anger

My brother is an engineer and makes robots. The thing that led him to be so great at his profession is that he sees things wrong around him that others do not and is driven to fix them. For example, when I was living in a shitty apartment with a  bathroom door that wouldn’t close all the way, he was at once compelled to fix it because the frustration of an easy to fix broken thing was unbearable to him.  I had been resigned to live with a broken door and had begun to think that occasionally jamming was one of its inherent properties. Then my brother came and saw it, got angry at the broken door, fixed it, and materially improved my life.

Anger about social injustice is like that engineer’s anger. It arises out of seeing clearly what is wrong. It leads to action. It’s not negative. It is energy.  If we let ourselves feel the anger we can use that energy. We see the world with new eyes. We see the things that are wrong that everyone assumes are just that way inherently, naturally. We refuse to put up with it. We try to fix what is broken. That means we live with more internal discomfort about society. We seem angry because we are angry.

Simply allowing ourselves to be angry is the first act of rebellion. The oppressed are not supposed to be angry at the oppressors, but we are. The more we try to suppress that anger the more it turns inward and destroys us from within. Women particularly aren’t supposed to be angry. Instead of turning that energy towards social action we turn it inwards into depression, or harmful self controlling behaviors, all to try to suppress the anger.

But if we allow ourselves to see, and to feel frustrated, then we have a chance to change the world for the better. We must see the problem before we can fix it.

Most fixes aren’t easy, but maybe there are some like that door that didn’t close that my brother fixed so simply, and everyone mistakenly thinks they have to deal with it.