Thursday, December 29, 2005

Buffering Rage

When we went to Powell's on Christmas Day (a tradition for writers in Portland) I only ended up buying two magazines, one called CameraArts and the January issue of Vanity Fair. I have decided Naomi Watts is my current hero. Persistent against all odds, I'd say. Sometimes talent just doesn't get recognized until it is long overdue.

Last night I read the long article about Natalee Holloway and her mother, and her media extravaganza to fundamentally destroy Aruba for not having found her missing daughter. As I don't watch or read or listen to any of the cable news stations I have not heard anything more than buzz about this story. I am certain that Beth Twitty's suffering is huge. I don't wish to imply that it is not. I imagine her holidays have been almost unbearable.

The case shows an underside of the present day American character. We are over-privileged and angry and this does not become us at all! When I was 15, something bad happened to me, it was all those things you imagine happening to your precious beautiful child alone and unprotected in the big bad world.

One of the things I have never really processed completely is how painful, incredibly painful the self-righteous anger of those who felt they failed to protect me was. Even then, so young I understood that their anger had nothing to do with me. It was all about them and their guilt. I knew that their rage was a force for continued suffering, to externalize their discomfort, get it away from them.

I see this tendency in myself. I get angry when I don't get what I want. I get angry when I feel like I let myself, or someone I care for down. I get angry when I feel that someone is acting in an irresponsible manner that puts themselves, or others, in harm's way.

The anger swells up like a huge wave and engulfed by it I forget that I am part of a whole, part of a family, a culture, a society, a world. I could care less about anything but my anger. In that place I am a danger to everyone. I feel nothing for anyone. I am swaddled in my buffering rage, deaf to nuance, to gray areas, to a sense of connection to anything but the overwhelming impulse to do something.

Anger is extraordinarily unattractive (and yes of course it can be a force for change, at least rage can, to fire us to do what needs to be done). I certainly don't get up in the morning and go…"Oh. boy! I am looking forward to spending today out and about encountering angry people! I can't wait!"

I didn't hear about the shootings in Toronto on the news. I heard about them on a friend’s blog and then on a bunch of blogs I was reading later when looking at photos. (Check this web hub out Photoblogs for some inspiring shots.)

Those self-righteous angry people in my life blessedly did not do much damage, people were not shot, a culture was not attacked, in a fairly short time life returned to some semblance of order and I was able to begin to imagine a return to a comforting "normalcy".

Last night I watched the second episode in the second season of Highlander. An immortal, Gregor, is a field doctor during a cholera epidemic and a boy dies. The doctor is devastated that he couldn't save the boy. The father is mad with grief and shoots the doctor.

In this case the doctor goes on to live (being immortal) but is forever changed and becomes a nihilist after this.

This morning I am hoping that if we are changed by the terrible tragedies in our lives, and in the news, and of course we are, we can remember that how we react when something or someone hurts us or makes us mad has the power to transform our world forever.

May we remember to pause a moment before we act.



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