Flash: On Justifiable Outrage

Especially when considering politics, most anger is apparently theatrical. There is something primal and discouraged about real anger. As a society we are generally taught to think rationally and plan our arguments out. We are socialized away from acting in anger, and most of the time that is sound advice. But there are times where confrontation is justifiable and needed, irrational or not.

People are attracted to those with genuine feelings because so much of what we see portrayed in popular media is contrived. The anger is fake or too restrained, the bastardized brother of a much more noble emotion.

True anger comes in two forms, righteous and latent. Righteous anger occurs in response to injustice. Righteous anger is valued and leads directly to change. Righteous anger seeks justice; it is the force that initiates social revolution and halts persecution. Righteous anger is hot, but not brash. It’s the tool of a person capable of calculation.

And righteous anger doesn’t only need to be directed without, it can also be directed at the self. The person I disappoint the most is myself, and my times of greatest personal growth often arrive whenever I am hardly able to stand my habits. When I become so angry at the circumstances I have created out of laziness or mismanagement, I finally enact and dedicate myself to meaningful change.

Righteous anger is a response to a specific circumstance, challenge, or hardship.

Latent anger is caused by unaddressed personal issues. This anger rises up from something unrelated. It is like a drain backing up from distant clog. Its source isn’t apparent at first. Uncontrolled anger is always bubbling just below the surface. It causes outbursts whenever the dishes aren’t done just the right way. It brings forth harsh words whenever a child isn’t as attentive as we think they should be, or when our spouse forgets to run an unimportant errand. Latent anger isn’t harnessed for any greater good. There is a kindness in righteous anger that isn’t present. No good comes from latent anger, only lashing out.

The person who lashes out in anger at loved ones is failing to address a separate, unrelated, and more uncomfortable issue. They are giving the world anger in order to avoid having to address the true source of their anxiety and fury. Their anger isn’t caused by what they claim, and finding the true source of their anger can relieve it. Often the person who is suffering doesn’t even know why they are angry until a loved one articulates it for them. The cause of latent anger is like a biblical demon, waiting to be named so that it can be cast out.

Like most things in our busy modern lives, we have substituted nuanced understanding for absolutes. Anger itself is not an enemy. It is a great motivator when it can be coupled with purpose. In fact, one cannot often exact a purpose without a touch of righteous anger.

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