12 Nov Is Anger Justified?
I’m facilitating a leadership program for 25 incarcerated men. These men have countless experiences of “justified” anger. At times, they are treated less than human, and made well aware of the fact that they have no power over almost anything. Even though you and I can freely move about, we too are locked up when we sit around and ruminate about rights and wrongs “done to us”, abut how things “should be” in our minds. We too “justify” our anger.
An excerpt from the forward of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”
Our participants are doubly locked up: physically and in their minds. To bring freedom to them by exploring new ways of looking at the world can be quite challenging, particularly in a facility where our participants have been dubbed “state property.” They have no control over what happens, but they absolutely have a say in their responses. I’m glad to be able to explore perspectives with them such that living behind bars can be seen in another light; the light where they do have power.
We will spend five months together, once a week, arguing exploring, discussing, and in the end, discovering a new way of looking at the situation. When that lightbulb goes on, I get shivers, even writing this to you right now. The lightbulb moments I never forget.
And for myself, I like to live with the adage that “anger is never justified” (Course in Miracles) – it has me do a little more self examination than be powerless in the face of others’ actions that impact me.