Anger has been swirling around the past 2 weeks not only in the St. Louis area but nationally as well after an 18-year-old boy was killed by a police officer. I don’t have all the facts about the case to pass judgment about who’s right or wrong, guilty or innocent, but I do know a little bit about anger to pass on here.
“The person who upsets you the most is your greatest teacher because they bring you face to face with who you are.” Lynn Andrews
Any time someone angers us or gets under our skin, there’s a mirror present that is reflecting something about us, if, that is, we are willing to look inward instead of blaming outward. The intense energy that bubbles up does not just belong to the present situation; it is touching on some old emotions or wounds that have not handled, and it is also showing us where we need to grow or what past issues need to be dealt with.
“Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” Unknown
I teach kids and teens that attend my retreats and summer camps that underneath our anger there are always more important causative feelings, like the root beer underneath the foam when you pour soda into a mug. We call these emotions “Root Beer Feelings.” Anger is only hurtful if we “foam” on other people by expressing anger at them. But it is far more beneficial to express your root beer feelings like sad, hurt, scared, confused, controlled, or disrespected because once you do, the anger just melts away. Anger is just a reaction to feeling the deeper emotions.
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Mahatma Gandhi
Anger and violence never dissipates hate; only kindness, compassion, understanding, and love can do that. Enough said.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Wayne Dyer
What I have noticed throughout the whole ordeal in Ferguson is that almost all of the so-called experts on hand have been doing a lot more talking than listening. Underneath the rage and fury being exhibited are people who don’t feel heard, understood, respected, or empowered. Until these root beer feelings have been brought to the surface and dealt with, all you will experience is more judgments, polarity, and misunderstandings leading to more confusion and disconnection, all ingredients for more anger and reaction.
If we could all just shut up for a while and listen to each other’s stories, perhaps we could bridge the gap between races and diverse groups of people. What we would discover with this kind of dialogue is that we are far more alike than different, and that we all share similar needs and wants. And that is a great place to start connecting.