Angry These Days

The latest IPCC report makes it clear that climate change is happening now and that we need major, concerted, international efforts to slow it down and deal with the ongoing crises it will cause.

After 18 months of a worldwide pandemic, it’s pretty obvious that major, concerted, international efforts will only happen in a fantasy world. And not in a fantasy novel, since I’m sure no editor would accept a novel that posited major, concerted, international efforts to do anything.

“Too implausible,” they would say. And they would be right.

I haven’t thought about the report very much. I knew what it would say when I heard it was coming out. Good news about important things is in short supply.

In truth, I’ve been depressed lately. Anxious, too, though not as anxious as I was last year. And angry. Very, very, very angry.

This might seem to call for therapy. But I’m depressed, anxious, and angry because of the pandemic, the atrocious US public health response, right-wing extremism, and climate change.

A therapist can’t fix any of that. All a therapist can do is help me put up with this nonsense.

And I don’t want to put up with it.

OK, for my own sanity and ability to act, I need to get back in the habit of meditation. Seeing myself as a tiny grain in the whole enormous universe helps give me perspective. Being mindful gives me the space to take action.

I know myself well enough to know that I do my best fighting when I’m centered and calm, not when I’m angry.

But another truth is that I am not willing to let go of my rage, because what is going on is truly outrageous and we should all be extremely angry about it. It’s important that I express my anger.

Somehow I need to figure out how to stay angry and centered at the same time. It’s a balancing act. I need to draw on Aikido, both claim my space and let the attackers fly past me.

It’s easier to visualize that balance as physical movement than it is to put this in practice in real life when the attackers aren’t coming at me with a punch or a sword. I know what to do with punches and swords. I’m not sure what to do with people who actively advocate for policies that are going to kill a lot of others.

But I am trying to work on it, to find a way to keep my center without completely letting go of my anger. It’s righteous anger.

There is a useful saying attributed to Angela Davis, though I cannot find exactly when and where she said it: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

I’ve tried to do that a lot in my life, but right now trying to change the things I can’t accept feels a lot like Prometheus pushing his boulder uphill.

Making real change is a very slow process. Watching the suffering that keeps happening because we are unable to fix things that should never have broken is painful.

I’m not giving up anger. I am going to try to be centered underneath it, but I’m not going to stop being mad.

What’s going on in the world is unacceptable. We must stop accepting it.

2 thoughts on “Angry These Days

  1. If it helps, I feel the same way. I fight against sliding down into a pool of perceived helplessness, because it’s all so big, and I don’t see people coming together soon enough or effectively enough to do anything and… and… and…

    If it helps at all, I’m right next to you with my shoulder against the boulder. Because I can’t not try, and knowing you, neither can you.

    1. I’m very glad you’re here with me. But, oh, I was so looking forward to a quiet old age of sitting on my front porch, sipping wine, and enticing the neighborhood kids with “Hey, do you wanna hear a story?” Instead I need to join those kids in the streets.

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