Sunday, August 22, 2004

Politics and Anger

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  • This blog was never intended to be overtly political. I want to write about my spiritual development, how I am learning to live dependant upon a loving Creatrix than on my own finite resources. The ultimate aim would be that someday, somehow, someone reads something here and is able to say, “Hey, I feel like that, and I like his solution, maybe I will try it.”

    And it does not matter to me if they try it in the context of a Baptist church, an Overeaters Anonymous group, whatever. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior then may He bless and keep you. If the Goddess is your guide, the may the light of Her moon show you the way.

    It’s all one anyway. It really is.

    Politics is such a nasty, divisive thing is this country that I actually wanted to stay away from it. How am I going to stay spiritual when I am in the shit? But I might as well be honest—I am a political animal, always was, always will be. That’s how it is. The problem is that politics often gets me angry because I really believe in things like free speech and gay marriage. But that anger just eats me alive.

    The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that once we have worked the first ten steps of Alcoholics Anonymous we will have ceased fighting anyone and anything, even alcohol. Maybe I have not worked those steps as well as I would like to think because politics gets me going. The adrenaline flows, the blood pounds in my head and I want to get out there and fight like hell for what I believe in. Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? Isn’t that how democracy works?

    I believe that anger can and will kill me if I let it. I also believe that one of the reasons I get so wound up and wrapped up in my political anger is because I feel powerless over my anger over many things in my life (relationships with my mother and sister, work, etc.) and in politics I have “safe” targets for my anger. But it is not safe at all because anger is fuel to the disease of alcoholism. Resentment cuts me off from the Goddess and when that happens: The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us to drink is to die. I believe that.

    I love what Starhawk has to say about anger in The Spiral Dance. She writes: We control our actions; we do not attempt to control our feelings. Anger becomes a connecting force that spurs honest confrontations and communications with others. The problems is not feeling angry, the problem is what I do with the anger. If I sit on it, wallow in it and feed it, it will become big enough to consume me. Starhawk has a paragraph that is very painful for me to read because I see myself all through it:

    (V)ery few men are in positions where they can afford to directly confront their attackers. Men’s anger, then, becomes twisted and perverted. It is threatening to recognize the true source of his rage because he would then be forced to recognize the helplessness, powerlessness, and humiliation of his position. Instead he may turn his anger on safer targets—women, children, or still less powerful men. Or his anger may turn to self-destruction: disease, depression, alcoholism, or any of a smorgasbord of readily available addictions.


    AA has a spiritual axiom that anytime I am disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with me. I take this not to mean that I am defective, but rather than I don’t have the skill sets to deal with anger in a constructive way, in a way that doesn’t harm me.

    See, I get angry at someone else, let’s make up an imaginary example here: say I am angry at George W. Bush. I am furious at him because I think he is, we’ll just have to imagine something here—let’s pick something so extreme you can’t help but hate him like he’s destroying the environment and using the lives of U.S. soldiers to further the political and economic agenda of his friends who run multinational corporations. I am pissed at this bastard and I let it consume my whole day, I spend the day reading blogs opposed to GWB, I check Google News to see if that asshole has been caught up to any other no good nonsense. When I see that he is up to some truly offensive behaviors, like smearing the reputations of America’s war heroes, I am more furious with the no good, son-of-a-bitch, fortunate son, jerkoff, Republican cocksucker (no offense to all the wonderful women in my life who have been generous enough to gift me with their oral favors). My blood pressure is up, my stomach is in turmoil and I am upset.

    How badly have I hurt him? Well, he’s out playing golf while our soldiers come home in flag draped coffins. On the other hand, my day is essentially ruined.

    So what am I supposed to do with this and about this? Give up, stay away from politics? I don’t think that is what AA teaches me—in fact in the chapter “A Vision For You” the Big Book tells the story of the third AA who essentially surrendered to God and went out and ran for some political office. AA’s are not expected to give up the things they do with their lives, we’re just expected to give up the harmful things we do that harm those around us and ourselves.

    What I have to do is to get rid of the resentment and channel the angry energy into positive, constructive action. Let go of the consuming rage. AA gives me very specific concrete actions to take for this purpose and most of them are contained in step four, which is coming soon to a blog near you. Anyone who is interested can then look at the mechanics of it in detail when I do.

    For now, I am simply going to point out that AA tells me that one good way of handling anger is to help someone else out. When it comes to politics, this is easy—I need to help out the causes and the people that I support with contributions, time, letters to the editor, etc. That is also why there is politics in this blog—because this is one way of channeling the anger into something that hopefully is constructive and will help others, including the candidates I support.