Do you ever have one of those days where something really just gets up in your face and grinds your gears? Uhh, bad wording: I bet you're all picturing that Peter Griffin meme that pops up every few weeks on Facebook like a pimple on my news feed. I'll try again: you ever have one of those days where something rubs you the wrong way and you just about burst like a broken fire hydrant?
Yeah, me too.
(I usually do better with the metaphors, jsyk)
Those who know me are aware that I don't get angry easily. Contrary to popular belief, it's not because I'm on a perpetual high of maple syrup, or because I've been conditioned to be polite since the age of five, just like every other Canadian child (we've also been conditioned to guard the 49th parallel with our lives, but that's a story for another day). It's been a long, difficult process learning to control my temper, but it's part of becoming an adult. You learn to control your emotions: you rein in your outrage when The Hobbit Part 2
ends with Smaug flying out over Long Lake, and you hide your tears when you watch the finale of How I Met Your Mother
(at least until you're alone in bed and nobody can hear your desperate sobs).
But when I do get angry? Oh boy - you better go call that fire-breathing dragon back, because he's got nothing on the heat I'll be giving.
Again, it's rare that I really let loose. I played in a road-hockey tournament over the weekend, and you ain't heard nothing till you've heard the chirping that goes on between young people pumped on adrenaline and Gatorade with two minutes left in the last period and the score's tied at 5 and elbows are flying and sticks are everywhere and woo hockey yes yes yes GO TEAM
. But I didn't get angry then. I was sweating and bleeding and bruised from head to toe, but not angry. It's a game, even when someone cross-checks you into the boards so hard it feels like your spine is coming out through your chest.
Injustice, on the other hand, isn't a game. There isn't anything that gets me going quite like injustice. I can get so intense that I scare myself sometimes. But I'm okay with that.
It took me awhile to be okay with that, to be honest. Like I said, all Canadians are conditioned to be polite, so breaking the mould meant rewiring my own brain in ways that would make any psychologist proud. I thought getting angry was bad, and calling out people was the ultimate in flagrant disrespect, worthy of the highest punishment (which I've always considered to be watching M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender.
Haven't seen it? Don't).
Thing is, there are some things worth getting steamed about. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating irrational anger that blows up unpredictably, hurting random people and making a mess, but I am
making a case for rational indignation that lights up when someone needs to know that what they're doing is wrong. Anger doesn't have to lead to hate if you don't let it (but I'll still argue that hate leads to suffering, and no amount of cookies is worth that, you crazy Sith).
I'll cut my wandering monologue short by summing up my thoughts as best I can (but it's past midnight, so it might not be as succinct as I'm hoping): if you see someone doing something you know is wrong, something that negatively affects another person or group of people, get angry. If you see someone perpetuating injustice, get angry. If you hear someone perpetuating injustice, get angry. These are things worth getting up in arms about, so don't let anyone tell you to simmer down
or stop freaking out
. The only thing that needs to stop is injustice, and the only way it's going to stop is if we call it out.
It can be scary, letting people know what you think. It can feel awkward. Believe me, I know. But justice is worth standing up for. It's bigger than manners; it's bigger than you or me.
So make a scene. Get angry. Because what we choose to stand up for shows what we value the most.