Monday, June 30, 2008

Behind the curtain

Can't a person have an opinion without spewing rage and anger? I'm beginning to wonder about that when LJ posts and conversations are heavily peppered with anger. I don't think the conversation is creating the anger, but rather the anger and rage are always there right beneath the surface and they bubble up like tar on a brass sky, blazing hot day. You'd think that people with so much good in their lives, if the reports are to be believed, would be calmer and less angry all the time and that it wouldn't blast out on such innocuous subjects.

Case in point: The fellow with whom I debated altruism and the meaning of life was so angry throughout the exchange, blasting me time and again with what he perceived as my cynicism and selfishness while he was a tireless and constant force for good and charity, while I remained calm, cool and logical. I just don't get it. This is someone who claims to be happy about volunteering his time to help others, indeed working his whole adult life as a fireman dedicated to saving lives and property, and he was angry at my suggestion that there are other personal motives hidden beneath the altruism. I must have hit a nerve.

Every time I read someone's journal who writes endlessly about how happy they are or meet someone who claims to have it all, I am a little surprised that such happiness barely hides so much anger and rage. How can such negative emotions flourish in such contented soil unless the contentment and happiness are all a facade?

I've been through some rough times, rougher than many people know, but one thing I've held onto is the sense that no matter how bad things get there is always something positive to take away from the experience, even if it's only the knowledge that I have survived. I don't mean that I don't get angry -- I do -- or that there aren't moments that I want to throttle some idiot for hurting someone I love, but mostly . . . I don't. My anger is momentary because I realize that people are always going to do bone-headed things and hurt other people by design or out of ignorance and I know I can't change that, so it's a waste of energy to be angry. Like my neighbor, Ms. Stilettos, and dumping my trash on my deck because she didn't want to share the trash bin. She seldom even uses the trash bin, except to throw away Starbuck's grande coffee cups and the occasional fast food bag, at least as far as I can see when I dump my bag of trash every week just before the garbage trucks come, so why the rage and me using the bin? I'd have to say it's control. She didn't control the trash bin any more and she couldn't control me.

As far as I can see, rage and anger boil down to control, even when the control is not being able to control how people see you. Once the smiling mask has been lifted or the man behind the curtain exposed as just a flunky or a man, rage takes over. Sometimes rage takes over as a defense to make sure that no one sees behind the mask or the curtain because it keeps the focus on the rage and people occupied defending themselves against the rage. Such insecurity in the face of discovery must be difficult to live with no matter how good things are. Even the great and terrible Wizard of Oz was nothing more than a carnival mind reader and balloonist who happened to fall into the right place at the right time to make his fortune and to wield great power over the people in Emerald City when what he really wanted to do was run away and hide, so he retreated into his palace, set guards at the entrance and created a powerful mask of rage to hide behind so people would be too frightened to ask or even approach. Such power and such loneliness in the midst of so much of what most people would see as riches and happiness must be horrible to live with day after day. Makes you wonder what else they're hiding behind all the rage and anger.

No, my life isn't perfect and there are things I'd like to have and don't, but everything comes in time. It took time to get what I've lost and time to realize I didn't need everything I've lost, and it will take time to rebuild, but at least I am not starting from scratch and there are always good things that come alongside the bad, like penicillin to cure infection from moldy bread. I don't mind the momentary anger at injustice or hurting those I love and care about because eventually I'll figure out what good comes out of the situation when the anger no longer hides the truth and I am calm enough to see the anger is about me. Good thing my vision is getting clearer and better all the time, but I wonder how people so full of rage and anger see.

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