Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anger Pleas to Please to Peace

This morning in our congregation Rev. Meredith Garmon is speaking about anger and of it’s natural place in our lives as we work with it to build peace in the beloved community. Anger is part of “hard wiring” in the basic primal emotional groups of emotions: mad, glad, sad, and afraid. To be human, is to respond in anger. Immediately however, signals of anger shoot up from our more primitive brain that responds with “fight or fright” to our cognitive centers and we begin to tell stories of why we are angry. Behind every anger response then is a “should.” We can be mad at our selves for what we should have done, mad at others for what they did or didn’t do, and underneath all of this, mad at existence for putting us in this awful pickle of being human and suffering all that we do as humans – loss, aging, death, pain, etc. In these “shoulds” then we have a chance to connect to life-giving needs, and from that to mourning, celebration in gratitude, and making specific requests as we move from victim hood to contributing to ourselves and the neighborhood. .

For example this happened to me this morning.

I opened the front page of the Gainesville Sun and there was a sticker saying “vote yes on Amendment 1” which is the amendment that would take away anti-discrimination protections from gay, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. The claim is that we need this amendment to keep men out of women’s restrooms. I had a surge of anger that came from shoulds: The Sun shouldn’t run this advertisement when they are against Amendment 1. People shouldn’t be fearful and prejudiced, and shouldn’t misrepresent the issues, etc. Translating this anger into needs I see that I long for equality, freedom, clarity, inclusiveness and understanding. Just writing these needs I feel the anger shift to empathy for the human species and a shift from “fight or fright/flight” to wanting to engage in the issue with compassion and with perseverance. If I stay in the shoulds I might flea with a plea on my tongue, “mend this world,” or might shift to thinking that those who hold different views from mine merit any less of my compassionate presence. I have faith that my compassionate presence and engagement with life will yield greater results than responding to the anger stimulus without consciously choosing what my actions and words might be. I choose peace.

Anger is a plea to please pay attention to needs, and when we do, we offer peace to ourselves and the world.

1 comment:

  1. "Anger is a plea to please pay attention to needs, and when we do, we offer peace to ourselves and the world."

    *Some* anger may fit this description. *Some* anger is justified, other anger is not justified at all. Some disciplined people are very slow to anger, slow to express their anger once they have been provoked to anger, and even slower to act upon that anger. Other people get angry all the time over things that they really have little reason top get angry over. Amongst other things they are called "hot-heads". . . I definitely fit within the former category and when someone does something that justifies my anger and does little or nothing to correct the situation I deal with it but getting even in various ways. I recently wrote about my don't get angry get even policy on The Emerson Avenger blog.

    BTW LoraKim the UUA Board of Trustees completely ignored my most recent "electronic communications" calling for some genuine and tangible restorative justice for *all* victims of clergy misconduct. They did not even acknowledge receipt of it this time around, even though I am confident that they definitely received it. This is how the UUA stands on the side of love and engages in waging peace with people who have been mistreated by U*U clergy ion various ways. . . It looks like I have some more getting even to do. Today is as good a day as any, being the Ides of March and all, and being two months to the day since I sent these emails to all UUA Board of Trustees members.