I have rage. It sits like a coiled snake in my blood system, on heightened alert, hissing at any threat even as bland as something that I simply do not like or agree with, ready to strike in a permanent fatal attack of verbal violence. I swear more now than ever, not in comedy, but because of this writhing snake.
On my Saturday morning run yesterday I overheard myself talking to my running buddy of 20 years, and was stunned to hear myself hiss, attacking this and that, the rage one second away from explosion. Is that me? Is that what is inhabiting my body and my psyche. Reptilian rage?
I think about a kid who went off his own rails yesterday in Munich, killing 9 strangers as they went about their day. Did he have my rage? Had it festered for a long time? Did he simply lose control of his coiled snake? If I have rage, how close are so many people to losing control of their highly coiled snake? (Domestic violence, road rage, not a far step to mass murder.)
Collective rage, the tide is rising, you can feel it, you feel it as people explode in violence. Violence of words, of hand, of bullets.
You know it is a virus spreading through the ether, invisible, when a beautiful soulful women on an Australian Breakfast TV show makes a comment about banning a whole religion from coming into our most egalitarian country. Her coiled snake, soaked in fear and despair, could not be contained for a single moment longer. So she hissed in the only way she knew how. The hiss of a mother trying to protect her children from a threat of shadows, fed by a strategic malignancy designed to do exactly that. Have us strike back in fear.
Make no mistake the stew is fear that the coiled snake is simmering in. Cultivated with strategic planning by people who know the capacity of fear to turn the world upon each other, and in so doing, serving their singular purpose. The same purpose that has guided the dark side of humanity from day one. Power and control, control and power. Money, monopoly, dictatorship, authoritarianism.
And we, the people, swallow it all. Hook, line and sinker.
So I notice my rage. The subterranean violence, and I know in my bones that it is the response that I am being encouraged to have. Yet it is not the one the world needs right now.
Have we not learned through our long history of killing each other that fear only begets fear, violence only begets violence? My rage might feel justified. But in truth it is a primal response from my reptilian system.
Have we not learned? Have I not learned?
We can use our rage to get off the couch and into the arena. We can use it to no longer stand passively as victims. We can use it to clearly say no to the extraction and degradation of any human. To violence in any form. To mass guns. To obscene salaries and military budgets. To big corporates owning politics. To hate. We can use it to vote, even if we think our vote doesn’t matter.
But once in the arena what is required of us is to reach then for the stars, for light. For love. To find pathways that are built on love. On daring to care when caring seems far from possible. For inviting. For partnering with, listening like we have never listened before. To be on our knees in humility, as the demigods of perpetuating fear project their violence from some entirely false pedestal. Where the neo-oligarchs of the world, The Koch’s of the oil age and the Peter Thiel’s of Silicon Valley, who consider democracy as an anathema to capitalism and therefore something to be destroyed, where these people who hold a perception of power as hoarded money or guns, and people as mere cog’s in the money making machine, are seen for what they are. Bullies. Monsters. Darth Vader’s, Voldimort’s. The Night King.
Bullies can never thrive in a world where there is no victims. Victims can only be victims when fear is their source.
We must rise above fear.
Use my rage, have it drive me to act. Then act with love, and courage. Have my fear be a guide to strategy and not to reduce me to supplicant in the face of the bullies of the world. The only power they have is the power I give them. Nelson new that, when he walked from Robben Island.
This, this is the work. It requires that we know our snake lying in wait to hiss and bite. That instead of biting, we hiss and we love. And love. And love more.
Photo credit, Christine McDougall, taken the morning I wrote this article. Beauty is always an antidote to rage.