Another way religion has done a disservice to people it telling them anger is bad. People tend to think of anger as a wild, negative emotion, but research shows that anger has a positive side, and is a necessary and beneficial emotion. To deny, repress or judge the emotion of anger leads to all kinds of psychological dysfunction.
Anger is a legitimate and useful human emotion. Anger is an intense emotional response, and often indicates when ones basic boundaries are violated. Anger surfaces when we experience, witness, or become aware of injustice. Anger can be a motivating and energizing force to penetrate despair and apathy. Whereas sadness can often lead to passivity, anger often leads people to bring change. Anger is also an indicator of what you are passionate about, and a clue to why you are here and who you are for the world. Anger itself is not bad. How we respond to, express, or manage our anger determines whether our anger has a destructive or constructive impact. Jesus got angry… like, REALLY angry! In fact, you’d probably have to work at it to get as angry as Jesus did.
I wrote in Notes from (Over) the Edge:
“You need to get angry.
Let that anger fuel your resolve to be free.
People often envision Jesus as someone tiptoeing around in a flowing robe, speaking softly, and carrying a baby lamb in his arms. But the real Jesus of history was a lightning rod. He got angry. He was the greatest debunker of religious hierarchies and traditions, and the greatest desacralizer of holy places, times, people, rituals, priests and things, that this world has ever seen. The religious establishment hurriedly condemned him to death for blasphemy, while the secular powers executed him for sedition.
“Nice” is overrated. “Nice” is being “amiably pleasant, pleasing, and agreeable.” Not exactly the word I would use for Jesus when he was turning over tables in the temple. Jesus did not do this nicely. Jesus was a person of deep love and compassion, but the word “nice” doesn’t fit him. “Defiant” and “subversive” fit much better.
You’re too nice.
Religion taught you that you should be nice, considerate, polite, amiable, and selfless. An antonym for “nice” is “improper.” “Improper” is defined as: “not being in accord with acceptable behavior and procedures; not in keeping with conventional mores.” Yep, that was Jesus!
The road to Truth has improper written all over it. People traveling this road are a threat to all the nice people. Don’t expect them to be nice anymore, at least to you. Your world works because it hinges on you being nice. There will not be a crowd cheering you on. Knowing Truth is not a popularity contest, and the road to your freedom and end of suffering will be lined with people expressing disapproval.
Every step on the path of Truth is an act of non-conformity.
There will be resistance. There will be a lot of chances to turn back. Keep going! Be fearless!
How much suffering will you tolerate? How many things will you continue doing and believing that have not worked and never will? How long will you put on that fake happy face, be nice, go to church, and conform? How long will you listen to everyone else but yourself?
The board is set, the pieces are moving. You must come to it at last – this is your great moment to be free and to stand for the liberation of all humankind!”
– Jim Palmer, Notes from (Over) the Edge
Photo by Darla Winn