Anger is an interesting emotion to explore because we have all directly felt its physical effects while, arguably, few of us have understood its cognitive ones. Consider, for instance how we become frustrated when we repeatedly engage in behavior expecting a particular reward and that reward does not happen. Or, how our anger is a response to a perceived threat.
Consider how anger can breed extremism which can feed terrorism. You then begin to understand the complexity of social, economic, personal and psychological reasons behind it. You have to ask then: can anything be done, ever? Can anger ever stop?
It is fascinating how a perusal of Sunday Read content brings anger up again and again as a subject in various contexts. Back in 2016 I, somewhat naively perhaps, even suggested that it should be embraced and used creatively. I do not quite think that today.
We live in the age of anger. We have tools that can amplify it, feed it, magnify it. It has not gone unnoticed. Entire books have been written trying to explain it. Political analysts think it is a “time for payback” mentality for a collection of amassed and justified ills that our social systems have ignored and our governments have never addressed. I have written before about how this is also true and it frequently leads to responses that defy logic.
From a neuroscientific point of view anger is an arousal state of the brain that, in modern contexts, shuts down the very processes we need to successfully deal with the complexity of the situations we have to deal with.
It has led us to an interesting situation that is truly unprecedented. Swimming in the same information sea, we have global tribes without global tribal leaders. We use tools designed for social interactions as sweat-lodge ceremonies to vent our feelings without a thought to what exactly happens next.
We have yet to devise ways we can hold meaningful conversations at length in volume, across time-zones and countries. We have yet to understand what countries really are designed to do. We do not, really, yet; know how to live our lives.
And we may be running out of time to work all this out.
Feel the anger rising inside you?
We are as predictable at times as we are incapable of always controlling ourselves. Yet arousal control is the exact capability we need to add value to ourselves and others, dignity to our responses, and, maybe, meaning to our lives.
The challenges keep rising. I know. We are about to enter a new era of responses that have not quite been devised yet. The adventure of our historical times has just begun.
Predictably, you know what I am going to say next. You have coffee and donuts. Croissants and cookies and maybe even a slice of chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.