Yesterday I wrote something personal that wasn’t very well-reasoned and I think misrepresents reality. I know most people don’t care about this, but I do so HERE I GO!
change isn’t made through righteous indignation, condemnation, and anger (which is what I am full of right now.) It’s made through understanding and broad cultural change.
Was the thing I said…which not only says “Change is made through change!” (an entirely useless statement clearly stemming from a lack of proof-reading) it also indicates that anger and frustration has no place in activism which, historically, is the opposite of true.
Anger and frustration are extremely important fuels for change. Movements must grow…and being angry because of injustice is absolutely fantastic.
However, there are some problems with anger. It is a fuel…not a tool. When anger is used as a tool, it tends to spark more anger in the opposition, making it a fuel for them. That is especially true when anger is converted to hatred (which, anyone who is a human should know, is a very small step.) That only escalates and entrenches the sides, pitting people against each other, creating strong identities in large groups of people based on opposing out groups. That’s how wars get started. I’ve watched that happen over and over again, and the unchecked fear / anger / hatred of Fox News’ viewership is a fate I would very much like to avoid.
Anger is also exhausting…it is a hot fuel, but without constant upkeep, I have found that it leads to depression and hopelessness. It is not a pleasant way to feel, and I think activism should be difficult, but if it drains you, it is not sustainable.
Anger fuels a lot of intelligent activism, especially when it’s combined with other fuels like love and knowledge. It’s most potent when combined with sociology, and an understanding of how cultural change functions…which is something I would like to do more research on.
In the end, of course, you can’t control these things. When there’s too much of it, anger will burn completely uncontrolled. The police seem to fully expect that the grand jury will not indict Darren Wilson and that the resulting anger could very easily turn a peaceful protest into a riot that spreads from Ferguson into St. Louis.
If that happens, the anger fueling it will absolutely be justified, but it will not be a force for change. Anger will become the tool, when it should be the fuel.