Anger Isn’t a Destination

Picture by  Swantje Hess and Jannis Pohlmann.
Picture by Swantje Hess and Jannis Pohlmann.

There are a lot of things in this world that rightfully stir up anger,  but this isn’t a post about them.

Neither is this a post about not being angry. Sometimes you need to get mad about the injustices in this world. A well-placed rant can be a great way to grab people’s attention and focus it on something that desperately needs to be changed.

By no means do I expect anyone to swallow these emotions and pretend to be happy with the way things are. That’s neither realistic nor emotionally healthy.

What concerns me is when people get stuck in a loop of venting.

Anger isn’t a destination, it’s a tool.

You don’t change the world simply by getting really mad about what’s happening in it.

“Women aren’t meant to be pastors,” someone in a position of authority told me once a very long time ago. “They’re happier working behind the scenes.”

“…but she’s not like you,” a friend said years later. “She’s just bi for the attention. You’re a real bisexual.”

Cue eye roll.

It wasn’t the first or last time I’d heard either of those sentiments. I could have easily explained why those stereotypes were so harmful (and useless) with a grouchy monologue.

I didn’t.

Sometimes anger simmers for so long it crusts over, hardening into a nearly impenetrable shell. I understand why that happens. When you spend your life accidentally running into brick walls you’re eventually going to grow wary of what might be waiting for you around the next bend.

Hating the wall doesn’t make it disappear. The bricks themselves aren’t the problem, it’s how they were cemented together and where they were installed that make them so painful. They could have just as easily been used to make a playhouse, or a deck, or to repair a sidewalk that’s all but crumbled into pieces.

This doesn’t make it ok to build more walls in the middle of the street, of course.  But they’ll come down a lot faster if you start dismantling them than if you wander around complaining about how tall they are.

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