336. Why I Don’t Seem So Angry

A friend of mine recently read some of my articles and told me that though he enjoyed reading them, he wondered why I didn’t sound angrier. He and I belong to the People’s Music Network, a group of people who are hoping and working, through music, to have major effects on what happens in this country and this world. There’s a lot of anger in our network – anger about war, injustice, bigotry, the destruction of our environment, and more.
I am angry about a lot of things, including things that concern children, parents, and teachers. It infuriates me that people harm children. I’ve referred to our society’s messed up priorities; parents and teachers should be given much more support than they’re given. I’m not just saying these things to prove that I can be angry; I really am angry.
Some people can be both angry and articulate at the same time. Not me, so much. In my experience, when I feel intense anger, it’s better not to go public
with it right away. I think about my anger, and try to come up with strategies that will let people know what’s on my mind in ways that they can hear. If I yell, swear, or insult people’s sacred cows, fewer people are going to get my message. So I write when I’m feeling pensive and/or inspired. My anger is still there, but I try to express it in ways that work. And that doesn’t sound as angry, I guess.
Hope is another factor. When I think about the future, I think about the children I’ve known. They’ll be the ones in charge. They may not have much power right now, but as I watch them grow (and help them grow), I get good feelings about the future. I’ve been teaching and parenting long enough to see some of the children I’ve known become adults. One of them wrote a letter to the Boston Globe that made me proud of her. It focussed on an injustice that concerned her. Another is a union organizer. Another challenges me on issues I thought I’d figured out, and sometimes changes my mind. One of my former students is a lawyer who focuses on the rights of disabled people. She herself has cerebral palsy.
Some of those people are probably going to be angrier than I seem. Some may be angrier than I am. And of course, some will be complacent, or work against causes I support. I’m part of a generation I sometimes jokingly call “The Aged of Aquarius,” and even though it seemed as if we were united against war and injustice, there must be plenty in our ranks who don’t see things the way I do; we’re the postwar baby boom, and we’ve elected candidates I would never vote for. I know I did my teaching and parenting in places where it was easier to feel hope than it might have been in other places. But I like hope. I taught high school for two years, and switched to elementary school because it gave me more hope. I try hard not to be complacent; I want to make a difference. But if I let myself get too angry, I know I won’t be as effective.

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