I grew up to believe all anger is bad. I thought that anger and rage brought abuse, and if there was anything I was going to avoid in my life, it would be the type of anger that would lead others to be left on the cold, hardwood floor of the living room, laying in a pool of your own tears, hyperventilating and praying someone wouldn’t come back. I fear that someday I may grow to have that bitter seed blossom in me. But now in times like these, when the world is full of anger and oppression, my belief has been altered.
I now believe that uncontrollable anger brings abuse, while controllable anger sided with love brings change.
Growing up in the South, in a predominately white community, I know I was sheltered. Thankfully, I did not use racial slurs or make jokes about someone’s race. I’m grateful I didn’t or I would be looking at younger me and be so disappointed; I wouldn’t allow myself to get up in the morning without asking God to forgive me. But I do know I took for granted the advantages I had as a white woman.
I was very aware of race growing up and how differences are a beautiful thing. I am half Hispanic, half white, but if you take one look at me, you know that my daddy is a white man. There was no oppression toward me because of my race because I don’t look the part. So, attempting to know how the African American community feels during this time would be inconsiderate. All I can do is try my best to be sympathetic.
When situations arise, I find it best to be sensitive. Whether it is towards someone’s race, trials or homes, we may not be able to fully understand the feelings of those around us, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
The home is not comfortable for many families nowadays. The Childhelp National Abuse Hotline states, “Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children.”
There are times when returning home from school causes children to be filled with anxiety, asking themselves questions like: Am I late? Did I do the dishes this morning? Did I leave my cup in the living room? Should I expect a good round of yelling as I enter the door, just for it all to be back to normal as quickly as the yelling started? This anger can have so much control over their lives. And I can say confidently, they do not come out of there unscathed.
Despite learning this fact at a young age, there was one good thing that came out of it. I knew that anger would do nothing except hurt the people you love.
But now, with the oppression and fighting going on in the world, my opinion changed. Honest and well-focused anger brings change. As soon as that line is crossed, when the people you love begin getting abused or hurt or killed, then that uncontrollable anger, that rage, is not the way.
We can learn from Martin Luther King Jr. by knowing that, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
These protests I see going on are beautiful. I look at them and hear these people’s stories and can’t help but feel so much love for them. What’s happening right now is going to change the course of history forever, and I am so grateful I am present to see this change occur.
But as these protests begin to be driven by rage and murderous anger, I can’t help but weep to see God’s children at war with each other. When innocent citizens are beaten up in the streets for defending their places of business, or when protesters kick and spit on people who just walk through their protest not harming anyone, then I cannot agree.
This is equivalent to abuse in the home. When a parent respectfully gets angry with a child, so the child gets disciplined properly, this can be agreed upon as good parenting. But if a parent lets that rage take hold of what they do, to the point of physical, mental, psychological or emotional abuse, this is when that line is crossed. When harm is done, there is no excuse for the abuse.
The world-changing actions people are participating in are imperative to be accompanied by love and anger. Love for those that stand next to you as well as toward those who still do not understand, and anger to keep the focus on the reasons why change needs to occur. Although anger is not the preferable emotion to feel, if that’s what it takes to keep citizens driven to make real change occur, then that is what is needed. But it must be sided with love so that it doesn’t burn like wildfire, destroying everything in its wake.
You might say that loving those against you isn’t going to change anything, but as King once stated, “The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.”
I believe that this transforming force becomes love. The type of love that pushes people to act for change and allow it to change the hearts of the people.
I get it. Sometimes these peaceful protests end with the barrel of a gun filled with rubber bullets aimed at your head. This we cannot excuse, but as soon as we allow hate and rage to be our motivation for change, then we are not only failing ourselves but failing our brothers and sisters still fighting for equality.
King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”