Monday, September 23, 2013

I Rage, Therefore I Am?

I have noted that hatred, like any number of other negative emotions, is, as I understand it, a sign of inserenity; or anxiety, if you will; something that we cannot change and will not accept. We cannot change the world around us to bring it into line with the way we feel that it ought to be, and we will not accept that people or circumstances that are not to our liking do not owe us anything different. While this perhaps tells us what hatred is, it does not explain to us why it is. What makes rage, bitterness and anger advantageous enough to the human condition that it survived the culling of evolution? Or necessary enough that it was built in by a divine plan? Are the benefits it brings to the human condition worth the costs?

Consider the picture above, pulled from Google+ yesterday. The hatred is palpable. But I wonder to what end? The vast majority of the teeming hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia and their relations and descendents scattered around the globe are unlikely to seek to change their lives and beg forgiveness for their supposed sins. The sun rose (and the rains fell) upon them this morning, just as they have for the days, weeks and years before. Why they need the approval of yet another random denizen of the internet is beyond me.

When I was a child, My father cautioned me against expressions of impotent rage (whether directed at people or things) by pointing out that simply demonstrating that I was angry did nothing to redress the source of my anger. Those that I was angry at were unaffected, and whatever had been done to arouse my anger was not undone. I was simply reminding myself of my own powerlessness. And, in doing so, I was undermining my own self-approval and comfort. Of course, the wisdom of adults is often lost on children, just as it is often lost on adults, and it was not until I was an adult myself that I could fully appreciate the corrosive effect of anger on myself.

Regardless of what we might understand that we need from them, people do not owe us anything. They do not transgress upon our just deserts when they behave in ways that we find unwarranted or even unacceptable. They are beyond our control. I do not know if being okay with that leads to serenity, or if serenity leads to being okay with that. Given the difficult road to either, I expect that it's somehow both of these at once.

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