I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that we’re currently living in trying times.
Wherever you’re placed in the world, there have been a number of developments over the last couple of years that have concerned people of a progressive mindset – and I like to characterise myself in that category. I don’t need to go into the details. There have been more than enough words spent on these particular social and political phenomena.
It’s getting a lot of people upset. Around the world there have been marches and demonstrations, occasionally culminating in violence. I can understand why. When you hold strong and deep-seated beliefs about how society should function and the ways people should behave, it’s difficult and confronting when everything seems to be heading in the opposite direction. You can feel pretty hopeless and impotent about it all. It’s not suprising to see people reacting so strongly.
Over the last year or so I’ve watched on, feeling as frustrated as many of you and not sure what I could do to turn things around. Only last week, I felt like I arrived at an important realisation. I decided that there was one clear thing I could do as an act of resistance against all of these forces to which I’m so strongly opposed. It’s something simple, but I’m hoping it will turn out to be useful and effective.
I’m not going to get angry.
It may seem like a strange response. Maybe to some it might look like some sort of submission, but I don’t believe it is. I’ll try and explain why.
I feel like anger is exactly what the people I see as sitting ‘on the other side’ want. It’s their calling card, the main tool in their arsenal. By trying to provoke our anger, they want to bring us down to fight on their level. They want us to react without thinking, and to employ the same tools of violence and rage that they resort to so frequently. And once we’ve been dragged down to their level, they can point to us and say, ‘Look at how they’re behaving. They’re the ones who are the problem, not us.’
It doesn’t mean I’m going to start believing everything is okay. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to remain concerned, and to try and voice those concerns when I can. And it definitely doesn’t mean that I’m okay with the way many people are behaving. But it does mean I can retain my capacity to think clearly, rather than being overtaken by emotion. I’m going to try to channel my concern into useful and productive activities, rather than pointless acts of anger and violence.
These days, it’s hard to know how things are going to wind up, and what role any of us can play. But as long as we play the game by our rules, not the rules of those who oppose us, I think we have a chance of seeing our values prevailing. And even in these difficult times, things happen to make you see some hope. Just last week, the results came through for a survey on whether Australians support same-sex marriage. The survey itself was a cynical and highly political ploy, but when the numbers were revealed, it was nice to see that a good majority of us Aussies choose to respond with empathy and consideration for other people. It made me think that maybe we do have a future.
And that’s why I refuse to get angry.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as