Some Thoughts About Anger

I like people who are alive. People who are alive are hard to control. They have ideas, aspirations, and feelings, including anger.

John Cowan in Small Decencies


Lots of anger after November 8, 2016. Lots of fear too—often hidden in anger.

A few thoughts about anger:

Rollo May in Power and Innocence:   

The central element which constitutes the human being: It is the capacity to sense injustice and take a stand against it in the form of I-will-be-destroyed-rather-than-submit. It is a rudimentary anger, a capacity to muster all one’s power and assert it against what one experiences as unfair. …this elemental capacity to fight against injustice remains the distinguishing characteristic of human beings. It is, in short, the capacity to rebel.

Can we relate to anger at injustice? What do we do with the anger we feel when we see unfairness? What would be a good way to deal with election anger?

From an unknown source:

A peaceable young man asks a rabbi:

Are we not to forswear anger and live peacefully with all men? The rabbi answers, my son, God made anger for a purpose. If he had not intended for us to use it He would not have put it in our souls. Only be careful how you spend your anger. There are many things we should not be angry about. We should save our anger for those things which demand it.

What do we get angry at that we shouldn’t? How do we pick our battles?


Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

Do we think carefully about how we will spend our anger? Do we discuss our reactions with someone else before we express them?

I wrote in The Spiritual Warrior in the Time of Trump:

 Warriors are often angry people. Their anger is forceful disapproval of lies told, trust betrayed, innocence violated, reality denied, power abused, and incompetence rewarded. They don’t turn indifferent or deny their anger and become sadistic and abusive. True warriors engage their anger and use its energy to empower themselves and free others.

How do we engage and use our anger? When have we harmed the spirit of others in our own lives?

Rollo May in Power and Innocence:

In the utopian aim of removing all power and aggression from human behavior, we run the risk of removing self-assertion, self-affirmation, and even the power to be. If it were successful, it would breed a race of docile, passive eunuchs and would lay the groundwork for an explosion in violence that would dwarf all those that have occurred so far.

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