Does anger scale?

We live in an intensely angry world right now.

From the vast number of conflicts around the globe, to what amounts to political discourse these days, to simple daily human interactions at work or on the road, so much of what we encounter is anchored in anger, drenched with hate.

For me, anger most often comes in two forms.

We know that anger and frustration can be a catalyst, an accelerant, the fuel for action big and small. It’s easy to see how anger at an unjust status quo propels the civil rights movement and other social justice causes. On the business side, there are many stories of entrepreneurs creating new and better solutions to address areas of intense frustration. This first kind of anger is energizing and it doesn’t need a false sense of ego to be useful and it doesn’t require hating or humiliating those who stand in opposition or merely “don’t get it.”

Then there is the anger of judgment and one-upped-ness. The “I’m right, you’re wrong, and my ego is only going to be okay if I can win and make you feel less than me–or even less than human.” We see this every day from Donald Trump, from the road raging driver, from the religious zealot and in the day-to-day arguments with friends and loved ones. If I’m honest, I’ve been that guy more times than I care to think about.

This type of anger is rooted in fear and hate. It emerges from insecurity and generates a sense of false empowerment. It pushes people away. It makes connection impossible. It is devoid of compassion and generosity.

And it doesn’t work. And it certainly doesn’t scale.

Bridges are better than walls. The bad driver is not going to change because I gave him the finger and leaned on the horn. I might feel better for a bit by “winning” the argument but long-term vulnerability and connection are lost.

In the battle between love and hate I know which side I’m taking.

Anger keeps us trapped, stuck, unconscious. Love liberates.

 

 

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