I haven’t really talked about it so explicitly here but I think it’s time:
I have another project that I try to nurture as much as this one.
(I must admit that writing this felt like cheating on Investigative Selfism!)
In short, it’s on various “what’s wrong with the world” things: conflicts, authoritarianism, dehumanising domestic and foreign policies, Palestine, and some unfolding crises in democracy in other regions where I happened to live.
So…yeaaaah, it’s not very light! Who could have known that deconstructing the way mechanisms of oppression work wasn’t fun?!
On a more serious note, I will admit that there can be a lot of stress, occasional crying (I think it’s just called having a human reaction to inhumane policies), and simply too many ideas that, if unexpressed, result in something bad in the body. After all, the body is where stress lives.
And there can be a lot of anger.
Anger at what’s happening, anger at how long some things have been happening, and anger at the fact that…not everyone is angry about it.
Sometimes, not even my close friends.
Oftentimes, not too many states or international bodies.
There is no media outrage, no international condemnation, no actual measures taken against what that object happens to be.
So anger is a familiar feeling, yes.
But what I wanted to remind us with this increasingly long article are two things.
One, anger is not the same as hatred.
You can be angry at a situation, understand what’s causing it, criticise the state or any other body for doing that, but not allow that to burn you from the inside. And definitely not to unleash that hate onto entire populations. Not only hatred doesn’t change anything (it’s surely not the only reason for anyone to take meaningful action), but it’s simply not good for you. Because of what it does to you, into what it turns you.
Two, anger is a good spark but not a great fuel.
I needed to pause on this one myself.
It’s something I’m borrowing from a podcast episode I am posting below. It’s such a needed reminder, I think, and it poses a good question:
What IS a good fuel then? If it’s not anger and it’s surely not hatred.
I’ll leave this one for you to reflect on.
Is it genuine care for the well-being of others?
Is it a desire to see a world that is simply more just?
Is it a wish for certain kinds of freedoms?
I think whatever it is, we have to make sure it is sustainable, it is aligned with our values, and that it doesn’t slowly poison us as we choose to consume it (sometimes with so much pride!).
That we have to make sure it doesn’t turn us into hateful people.
People of action – yes.
Of hate – no, thank you.
We have to refuse to accept hatred as a measure of care.
And I don’t think this is a naive perspective to have: I know people doing incredible things, hard things working on heavy issues, for decades, who haven’t lost their sense of humanity (nor humour!), and who speak out against hatred instead of engaging in it.
I think if we just manage our minds well, we can do it, too.
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