Re: Is Anger Ever Good?
- From: ijdavis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Ian Davis)
- Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2006 04:58:46 +0000 (UTC)
In article <Xns97A4AC3337B85mcruise@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
JEB <enon@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
ijdavis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Ian Davis) wrote in
You are quite right in recognizing that many people are blind and
oblivious, many intentionally so. And in their blindness, they are not
angry; they "see" no problem. In fact this intentional blindness is
something that has often been very frustrating to me, and has sometimes
made me angry. Yet these are often the very people that need to be awakened
if things are to change. If I act out my anger toward them, I've got almost
zilch chance of helping them awaken. To honestly want and to work to help
someone "see" is quite different than being angry with them.
Well my problem is that I don't read my own internal chemistry at all well,
except when it is a long way out of wack. So it is hard for me to say what
exactly it is I am angry about or with. I see the consequences and have to
work back to what it was that bothered me about causes.
My anger and compassion are causally related. My anger at what is
done (shock and awe for example) leads to my compassion for those that
it is done to, and my compassion for those that suffer, leads to an
increased level of anger against the aggressor who harms them. I
consider this part and parcel of being human.
In my own experience, anger has not been productive. While I wallow in
anger, I am little focused on actually remedying the problem, or actively
extending compassion toward others - even those in need. How can one best
help the Iraqi people? By being angry at George Bush? How does that emotion
possibly help? Will that anger induce those asleep to wake up? Will it
influence them? The root of the problem is much deeper than George Bush;
that's what haunts me. There is something sad and troubling about the
character of the current American voters who have supported his misdeeds
and flagrant disregard for truth and ethics - even in a matter of war. If
this defect in the American character is not remedied, we will always be
vulnerable to more GWB's.
Anger is most certainly not productive. There is a fleetingly small chance
that the fact that I care might be of some small comfort to an Iraqi reading
this newsgroup, or perhaps even an American who find in what I am saying
their own positions echoed. Either would somehow make it all more than worth
while, but reality interjects to say that there is a vanishly small chance
that my contribution will serve such good. How does one hold up the message
that not all Canadians or not all Americans think alike, except by being a
voice at odds with the majority when one deems the majority wrong headed.
During the war against Serbia I rather believed that I was serving my country
at least as well as the next man by being the token Canadian who said that
Canada was not being what Canada should be in acting as it was, and that my
opposition to that war might in a strange way might exhonerate all those other
Canadians who supported it, just as the few in Nazi Germany who opposed the
wrongs committed by that state exhonerated at least to some extent the notion
that society is some monolithic thing where all think the same as to who are
their enemies, and what the enemy of their enemies is. The enemy of ones
enemies is no friend if that enemy is the self.
It is quite human to be angry. It is quite human to be violent, greedy,
etc. And mankind has suffered and continues to suffer from these attributes
of his own "humanity."
I have no need to be violent, nor any need to be greedy, so attach virtue to
the fact that I am neither. In a fight I've found myself better served by wit,
than I probably would have been by a sword, and I'm in that segment of society
that has more to live on than they need, rather less to live on than they need.
You seem to think that feeling compassion for the victim requires anger
towards the perpetrator. I don't think that is true. The clearest example
of this is natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes, or even an ocean
Well in such circumstances I'd understand anger against God. But there is no
underlying wrong in natural disaster. It is the wrong that angers me; not the
consequences of that wrong. The wrong of thinking that mere force of arms
could serve those the force of arms were used against.. the wrong of thinking
that "we shape reality, and by the time you've grasped that we've changed it
again". The wrong of thinking that US forces had to stay in Iraq to prevent
civil war there. Do you suppose JEB that dolphins have ever known such
hubris as we who consider ourselves so far superior to them.
Iraq is even a murkier case. The Iraqis under Saddam Hussein
deserved compassion, with and without the sanctions. The current chaos in
Iraq was unleashed by the U.S., but is much more complex than simply being
a result of the U.S. presence there.
There are two possible takes here. That the US presence has made things better
than things otherwise might have been or made it worse. My take which is a
rather extreme one is that the US presence in Iraq has made things infinitely
worse. It has engendered the us versus them mentality, and it has been an
extremely devisive one, because it has created an our side versus their side.
I don't know how things would have worked out in the universes that are not,
but it hard for me to believe that there is not some great loss involved in
things having worked out so badly, and for so little that ever seemed to
warrant the throwing of dice and the risking of such dire ends.
Do you really think Iraqi violence
would cease if American troops withdrew tomorrow? I'm not persuaded.
I don't think there would have been anything like the same level of violence,
fear and distrust in Iraq today if the US had made their "Mission accomplished"
banners of some years ago, the justification for terminating the US presence
in Iraq. One is of course not permitted to let the other side win, but the
notion that Iraqi's had against overwhelming odds driven the invader from
their shores, the better to be proud masters in their own homes, would have
been I think a legend that the Iraqi people might have built some solidarity
around. Similarly, legends might in such a scenario have been laid down
about how the noble American's rescued the Iraqi people from their tyranny
and gave them their liberty. I don't think that the images that the American
forces have created of both America and American's by over staying their
initial welcome has serves the American people as well as the absence of such
images would have. But then I never believed that the exercise was about
liberating the Iraqi people.. Do you think the history of Cambodia would have
been of the killing fields there if the US hadn't first taught the Cambodians
what war meant, and how violence was no more than a necessary means to serve
I do think George Bush needs to be held accountable. When I feel anger
about it though, it is mostly directed toward those Americans who decided
to sleep through the carnage, and elect him anyhow. This troubles me far
more than George Bush because it sends a message to American leaders that
we have poltically entered the Roman circus era, where anything goes as
long as we are entertained and can sleep on comfortably.
Yes, it was a painful time for me too, that night in San Antonio the day of
his re-election. It was vindication and validation of all his policies, and
the assertion by what might be casually considered the majority that the
majority approved his policies. As he said shortly there after that was
his accountability moment, and he passed it. But in fairness, those that
voted never had the choice of supporting any other policy.. Kerry was more
George Bush than George Bush on the moral rightness of all that had previously
transpired. Could the ballot really have been one between one candidate saying
vote for me because everything America does is right, versus the other saying
vote for me because everything America has done (at least re Iraq) has been
wrong headed, wrong policies, stupid, and just plain wrong.. can one really
imagine a leader willing to say "we've done wrong", and having done so still
The Scopes monkey trial epitomized the deep split in the American psyche
between rational (Clarence Darrow) and emotionally based religious myths
(William Jennings Bryan.) I'm not sure America has resolved that split.
Don't know that story.
To my mind the best reports regarding Iraq are not the neutral,
balanced, factual, this day has 24 hours type of analysis that one
might get from Reuters - "Some one exploded an H-bomb today but it
wasn't anyone I knew" (Moody Blues) type reporting, but those who
clearly care and because they clearly care are angry beyond measure at
what has been done. I don't know how emotionally one can separate
these two emotions, and "enjoy" one without also simultaneously
"enjoying" the other.
There are other emotions besides anger. Assume a brawling dinosaur wreaking
havoc. You might still care beyond measure without giving quarter to anger.
You could reasonably set out to curtail the destruction without becoming
angry at the stupidity, etc. of the dinosaur.
It is not yet clear which is the more stupid. To get oneself wiped out by
a meteor might be considered careless, but to destroy entire nations through
war seems somehow rather more reprehensible an act against the unforgiving
I agree that the reports from Iraq are terribly bland and heavily oriented
toward American comfort. That, in fact, is the fault of journalism today,
not GWB. Journalistic coverage during some phases of the Viet Nam war was
as close to being balanced as I've seen. WWII coverage via news reels was
close to propaganda. I've never read any fierce, tough coverage of the
Dresden bombings during that era. The atomic bomb coverage was more of the
"wow - how powerful" type than helping Americans understand the horror of
what transpired. But given my age, I only can read history, look at news
reels, etc. so maybe I've got it wrong.
The problem with the media is that these days the most cost effective way of
filling pages with news is to buy it off the wire. To a large extent there
are no longer the intrepid reporters out there thinking it their job to hold
the feet of the powerful to the flame of truth. We call it media.. but it
no longer serves the role required of it if it is to be a central plank of
our democracies.. that of educating the public about the issues behind the
issues. And the trouble with buying a story off the wire is that the whole
world gets to read the one story, and think the one script, regardless of
how far the script departs from the truth. We move from being outside the
story line to inside the story line.. and we don't even grasp this.
Years back there was a cartoon about how once upon a time the world was all
in black and white before we as a species invented colour. But we seem to
be moving from a world with all sorts of riches of colour, into one which
permits only blacks and whites. I'm not sure that is an improvement.
My sense is that people have a large number of defence mechanisms
designed to protect themselves from the harm the facts might otherwise
To be sure.
There is the not my government syndrome, there is the
George Bush is right syndrome, there is the Iraqi's are monsters and
so deserve it syndrome, there is the its all Saddams fault sydrome,
there is the its terrorists dummy so any thing is legit syndrome, and
add to that long list there is now on the table "its wrong to feel
angry so I won't, and I'll be a more compassionate and caring person
precisely because I've got over this anger thing that used to trouble
No. Trying to shed the anger has actually had the effect of making me much
more aware of the suffering than I was before. And it's a bit overwhelming
to see how deeply rooted the patterns of destructiveness are. Do you think
the longstanding U.S. interventions in South America and elsewhere for
purely economic interest is any less sad or troubling than the one in Iraq?
The only thing about the Iraq intervention is that it was so transparently
deceptive, and that it blatantly ignored international law and protocol to
the point it lowers the bar for future efforts.
This is one of the primary reasons it horrifies me, just as earlier the
war against Serbia did. But the other thing that horrifies me is that
people end up siding with people on no more than the absurdity of which
nation they belong to. There is an absurdity in thinking what was done
to Falluja was fine when done to Falluja while concurrently recognising
that if the same horror had been perpetrated on an American city of
comparable population it would have been an outrage of the first order.
I've never got over Marshall's thinking that one could be a voice loudly
opposed to the war in Iraq by emphasising how war killed Americans, while
seemingly being simultaneous oblivious, at least in the exhibit he was
involved in (the laying out of American soldiers boots), to those maimed,
killed, deprived of loved ones, parents, and children on the other side.
At a deep level I don't understand this identifying with the one side,
at the expense of the other. How substantively is a bomb dropped on
Belgrade or Baghdad a different beast from that same bomb dropped on
I think people
should be beyond angry at what has been done to both them and to Iraq,
by the current US administration. They should be furious. If my
leadership took my nation to war on false pretences, got thousands of
my soldiers killed, killed tens of thousands of innocent men women and
children, turned nations into failed states, aided my enemies, made my
nation far less safe, secure, and respected in the process, and to add
insult to injury left my nation near bankrupcy, I'd be wanting to live
long enough to piss on their graves. If George Bush adds to all his
near unbelievable previous list of follies by going ahead and dropping
nuclear weapons on Iran the better to teach the world that nuclear
weapons were not things that one might wish rogue nations to have,
(and he will certainly do that) I think I'd likely be the wrong side
of apoplectic as a consequence.
I think disapprobation may be appropriate.I don't think it has to be rooted
in anger, though. Anger is like a disease. First it's George Bush. Then
it's the people who elected George Bush, Then its's people who supposedly
tolerate George Bush by not being consumed with anger at him. If you follow
this chain indefinitely, you're mad at the whole world because it is
royally screwed up. And so it is. Do you start building what you want where
you can, or do you enjoy the wonderful misery of being PO'ed at the whole
world? Teachers of most major religions advocate the first. I think it
might have been you who posted the link about Al Lewis' death. I think his
thoughts on enjoining the fight for what you believe, without foolishly
focusing on winning or losing, were interesting. Under those circumstances
you can fight with vigor, without being angry because you don't or can't
What I liked most about that interview was the wiff I honesty runnning through
it. People willing to be as honest and as clear headed about what matters and
what doesn't in life are to my mind worth paying attention to. He said all
sorts of things which were in no way politically correct, but which turned
things around in my head and in doing so showed me things just a little more
clearly. I found his notion of people wanting to win and giving up quickly
when they couldn't, versus remaining true to a cause because it was right
something I could relate to, and some comfort, since I am very unlikely to
single handedly convince war mongers to renounce their new found enthusiasm
for waging pre-emtive wars of aggression. There is a old English motto --
it is not whether one wins or looses but how one plays the game. I'd happily
make that mine.
We live in a strange world. On the one hand I can't believe that even
George Bush is insane enough to start dropping nuclear weapons on
Iran. On the other logic tells me that were he to do so, his approval
rating would almost certain rise 20 points. Thus at least 20 percent
of the US population is probably insane enough to think he'd be a
better president if he did. And regardless of whether George Bush is
or is not part of that 20 percent, (he probably is) I rather fear that
he'd sell America's future down the river, if the doing so were even
in the short term to in any way boost his own.
It is this absurdity and irrationality that troubles me most, becasue it
makes this sort of thing thinkable well beyond GWB's term of office.
War is the most obsurd of all our sports. There are days I think we might
all be better off if Iran and the US traded presidents. That way George
Bush could get the inside scoop on what it is the Iranians are or are not
up to, while an Iranian as president of the US might grasp that the millions
he would kill as a consequence of his actions were as human as you or I.
It is worrying to me to have so little certainty even about which of these
two leaders is the saner. They both seem pretty intent on upping anti's,
over a game without any pot worth winning. Two bald men arguing over a
comb comes to mind.
- Re: Is Anger Ever Good?
- From: JEB
- Re: Is Anger Ever Good?
- Prev by Date: Re: Division and Illusion (was Re: Qv2)
- Next by Date: Re: Is Anger Ever Good?
- Previous by thread: Re: Is Anger Ever Good?
- Next by thread: Re: Is Anger Ever Good?