On Useful Anger

I’m hoping that at some point soon I’ll want to write about something other than the current political environment, but it’s hard to imagine right now, because I don’t think that what we’re experiencing now is going to go away at any point in the near future. But it was very heartening to see the turnout for the women’s marches this weekend, and it tells you that people are not complacent. They are civically engaged and determined to work for a better future. That is real patriotism, not draping oneself in the colors of the flag and nationalistic slogans.

Personally, I can’t handle (physically, mentally) being angry all the time, so I try to temper it with action, and gratitude for what I have: our small family, the ability to earn an income to provide for us, my health.

But I don’t want to lose the anger entirely because the flip side of it isn’t necessarily happiness; it’s more likely ambivalence. As a journalist, I’ve found anger useful when it’s directed at powerful people who abuse that power. It heightens and refines my sense of justice, which is not an expectation that everything in life be fair, but that we should work toward some semblance of fairness wherever we can. And I am not confident that the POTUS is going to change his stripes anytime soon, or that he will rise to stature of his office, or that the people around him (many of whom are also happy to abuse their power) will moderate him. He has already demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the gravity of the office and thinks of it primarily as a vehicle for personal gain.

So I’m not actually angry all the time, but when I’m inclined to write these days, it sometimes feels awkward to write about anything else. Like I’m avoiding The Big Thing. I’m more engaged on Twitter lately because it feels cathartic in a way to point out the absurdities as they’re happening. (And I realize Twitter has the opposite effect on a lot of people and they find it enraging. For whatever reason, it makes me feel better.)

But I also realize there’s more to life than focusing on whatever this administration’s alligators are doing in the swamp, or whatever the chief alligator happens to be Tweeting at 3am. We can still talk about books and art and good food, and everything at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, while the President is busy ensuring that the poor and disenfranchised are deprived of everything they need at the bottom. (Sorry; I can’t help myself.)

So tomorrow: book recommendations!