Saturday, September 11, 2004

Angry Men

(c) Andy Ternay

  • Went yesterday to Betwixt and Between, our local Pagan community center. Last time I had been there they were renting a church that had been converted into a Jazz club. That space was arguably too big for them, even at Sabbats the place looked empty. This space is dumpy and has a very odd layout. It is perhaps 20’ wide (divide that into two 10’ x 10’ rooms) and extends back into infinity it seems. Really, it just keeps on going, back and back and back. At some points the property appears to narrow to a hall, then there are apparently courtyards . . . it is odd indeed.

    I registered two whole voters. That was depressing. But B&B is smaller than it was, I left relatively early and there were no big events that night. A lot of factors were against my plans of registering thousands of potential Pagan voters.

    Still, it was actually kind of depressing.

    There is a type of individual that I don’t like. This individual is not uniquely Pagan, although in any group of thirty or more Pagans there will invariably be at least one. The guy (it is always a guy) seethes with angry energy. I’m not talking about psychic energy, although this guy will boil with psychic anger too. I’m talking body language, just all coiled up and ready to explode. His manner of speaking is argumentative.

    If the topic of conversation is positive, this guy will have the negative. For example, voting was my topic, his response was that voting never matters. I have gotten smarter over the years. I can sense he is looking for a fight (possibly physical as well as vocal). I simply say that that is fine and I will not disturb him again. This does not make him happy, he was ready to launch into his spiel and I just took the wind from his sails.

    So he insisted on explaining to me that he does not register to vote because then he will not be called for jury duty. I make a mistake—I tell him that is no longer true, now they pull jurors from the driver’s license database. His eyes light up. I have engaged him, he now feels he has an audience. I am then subject to a ten minute explanation of how to get out of jury duty. Apparently if you tell them you favor the death penalty for every crime, and that suspects should be tortured they don’t want you on the jury.

    Ahhh, I should have known. He is obviously a Republican!

    Later I catch him explaining to people ways to make pipe bombs. His face is lit up and animated. He wants his audience to know how to maximize casualties if they are going to use one. Looking round at his audience, it is clear that nobody is into the topic as much as he is. Some are listening out of politeness. Others try to redirect the topic from hurting people to practical jokes. The next chance he has, he’s back onto hurting people.

    I’m not sure how to help heal guys like this. They are obviously people who have issues. I don’t know, if there is a genetic predisposition to addiction, is there a genetic predisposition to anger? I tend to think that people with that much anger must have grown up in households where they got beaten savagely on a regular basis. I’d like to think there are ways to help people like this heal from the anger and fear that drives them, but I have not a clue how to do it.

    I used to work at a women’s shelter in Colorado. I would help battered women get restraining orders. He reminded me, forcefully reminded me, of those angry men whose only response to anger was to hit. At the time I worked there I was still drinking and I remember thinking, shit, can’t these guys just drink their problems away? Later, I learned that if you are angry and drunk, things escalate. I never hit Lisa, but I sure put holes in walls, broke potted plants, destroyed things, cut myself, smashed aquariums . . . I’m not actually all that distant from guys who punch their wives, really.

    That’s just another yet, really. I haven’t done that yet. Goddess willing and me keeping on trying to work the AA program, I never will.

    The guy has a girlfriend with him. She was tall and thin, with short hair and glasses. She looked like a librarian. I was hoping she was okay.

    So, my big question is what can we, as a society or culture do to heal men from their anger? There are video games, music and movies to fuel that anger, but what do we do in the way of giving these men tools to help deal with, defuse, redirect or safely express their anger? I don’t think we do. The only tool I had for anger was alcohol. AA gave me a whole toolbox of spiritual tools I can use and that is a great help. They also taught me the magic of pen and paper. Write down your anger, name it and watch it lose power over you right then and there. It works.

    Blog your anger. That helps too.

    I like helping battered women. But it seems to me that if we don’t do something to help these men deal with anger and fear, then it’s kind of pointless because we’re just guaranteeing that more battered women will be around.

    Good Morning Goddess! Thank you so very much for giving me the power I need to stay sober! It is beautiful today and I am glad to be here, alive, married and sober! Thank You! Blessed Be!