Submitted by William Elder.
Love comes from God— as do all things. So we are told. So does anger, for the same reason, presumably, though not so directly. And so do all those in-between human emotions we experience in the course of our daily lives. We love and we hate, we humans— like, dislike, make allowance for, hold to account in our hearts, the same way we fumble with loose change in our pocket, some coins new and shiny, some old and worn. Still we hang onto them all because someone sometime ago told us they have value and we believed them. But do they? Are our deepest emotions really so casual as to allow a flicked thumb to flip them into our belief system firmly enough to deserve lasting respect? God— here he comes again— I hope not.
We humans, our thoughts and emotions, deserve more respect than that— from ourselves at any rate. We are, after all, the species that made up the rules of civility. And did so out of self-defense. The coinage of human belief is struck once in the making— often a fiery affair—then gets carried around, polished, in that imaginary pocket, until we are called on to spend it. Parting from belief, particularly those newly struck, still hot, can be a fiery affair as well.
As with love, we get angry for reasons— good reasons and bad. If you have never had a good knock-down, drag-out fight with yourself over a closely-held belief, one that pulled you one way, then the other, that could go either way, and finally, after much struggle, you resolved it the one way— or the other— if not, then I am sorry for you! For that is what being a sentient human being is all about. Asking questions that you demand of yourself. First you supply the cheap easy answers, probably a half-baked opinion with somebody else’s breath on it. After laughing those away, finally, coming up with tough answers to tough questions, ones that ring true, ones you can live with on your own terms, and defend, if necessary. If you have endured such a personal struggle, congratulations, you are lucky—are maybe even a reasonable human! If you haven’t had this fight with yourself, I recommend it. Better than giving up smoking— just as hard and even better for you.
Wild storms of anger rage about us. Empathy reaches into them and draws back scorched. Sweetness and light does not define human existence on this planet. Savagery and the need to kill to survive does. In this savagery is found the core of human self-anger, the need to get ready, physically and mentally, to kill for your next meal, or for dominance, and keep on killing to maintain this mechanism is very hard on killed and killers alike. Look back at our wars.
Is this the ultimate argument for vegetarianism? No. We are well beyond that by ten thousand-plus years, at least on a species-wide scale. If you have not made your peace as the dominant species by now, bless your soul. Killing a chicken, as anyone who has done so can tell you, is so very much different from picking up a pre-killed, plucked, pre-packaged hen from the corner store. Fortunately, few of us Americans are faced these days with that option. More veggies ain’t a bad half-way step, though. (Rah, gardens, you can share with murderous chickens— bless ‘em! A welcome aside.)
With blessing comes anger again, making its rounds. Anger drifts among we humans on words, like sewage carelessly strewn, left to fester— and not just somebody else’s words, somebody else’s anger. Rather, our own sewage. The least we could, should do, on our own, for our own sakes, is to clean up a little, not spread anger so much. This miracle, how could, should it happen? How about this: Watch your mouth, weigh your own goddam words. Take personal responsibility, each one of us, for the hurtful, harming, thoughtless things we broadcast to those about us— regardless of circumstance. Listen to your own angry self, not some fool goosing you on. Ask, is that really ME? Saying That? Bet you’ll say no many more times than yes. I’ll be right there to swear you are right— way more than half the time, right is!
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.