The Tough Love Column

Anger has its uses. Tough Love is where we come to get mad, to expose the bullshittery, to shine floodlights on the unacceptable, to vent, to report the hard stuff, and to have difficult but transformative conversations. 

There is wisdom and considerable advice available to us hidden in the folds of anger and discomfort.  Great masters will tell you how every emotion we feel is instructive. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't know what the hell they are feeling - or how to use anger well. There's a lot of blame flying around, and not enough accountability. Accountability can hurt- especially when it comes to privilege and inequity. Nothing seems to make people freeze up, get defensive, blow their load- even the most open and honest people- than subjects like race, ethnicity, social-economic class, war, politics, civil rights.

When our demanding teacher, Anger, rises up from injustice in our world- whether personal or societal- then we must act. We have to feel our way through it, decolonize, be willing to have difficult conversations, hold space for those who's time has come to rise.

Hatred is never helpful. Anger, on the other hand, has been misunderstood and made a miscreant, an outsider, a villain -by and large- in much of our culture today. But it's a human right, and a powerful ally when channeled correctly. 

Thinking about recent events in Ferguson, NYC and beyond of racist, police violence makes me think about the powerful results of Anger in right action. I think of the powerful effect of literally millions of people being constructively outraged.

We have far, far to go on the road to an equitable, peaceful society and world. We are powerful when we are when united, even if briefly or only regarding one topic or event. We have to keep coming together. We have to lift each other up, face our privilege or our oppression respectively, and be willing to somehow wear the clothes of our ancestors while also healing these layers of rags we wear. If we are from a dominant group, we must be willing to listen, to look, to give, give, give- to ask how we should give.

If we are persons from marginalized or oppressed groups, we are called to become leaders, guides, solutionaries, our own community's healers, for our own sake. 

You can't be what you don't see. If we believe its all in Big Brother's hands, that we have no choice or voice or say, then that will certainly be our truth.

The scheme of the ultra-rich and powerful seriously falls to pathetic pieces without a willing, disjointed, isolated population. A unified, connected, unwilling public can create whatever it wants for its society.

But anger has been necessary for change as long as patriarchy, sexism, classism, homophobia, religious persecution and racial supremacy has ruled... so anger will continue to be necessary for some time to come. In its most distilled state, Anger will always be necessary for the seedling to push through the heavy, wet, cold dirt to find some sun and grow. It is what's needed for new growth. 

So what needs to be discussed?
Who needs voice? 
What courageous conversations, difficult conversations, passionate (non-violent) debates can we have here?

Header Image: Women's March, 2018, courtesy Bloomberg