Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Who, and what, makes us angry?

It is said that the last king of our country was so angry with one of his chief ministers. The minister was famously known as Ehelepola. The king not only killed him, but also cut of all the trees known as Ehela. That gave way to a Sinhala saying: Ehelepola samaga ati kentiya kochcharada kivvot minihage nama sihi novenna Ehela gasut kapuva vagei (he was so angry with the man called Ehelepola so much so that he even went to the extent of cutting down the Ehela trees in order not to remember him).

Why are we, in the first place, angry with someone?

Are there any reasons to become angry?

Yes, any respondent with common sense would say. There are numerous reasons for being angry.

Anger has no eyes, goes a Hindi saying. When a man grows angry his reasons rides out, goes another proverb. Then comes a wise crack that goes as ‘anger begins with folly and ends with repentance’. However much we try to calm down one’s angry temperament, the anger sees no bounds. At times people use harsh words and abuse others when they are angry over something.

Anger germ

Perhaps their reputation is challenged by rivals in the field of work by expressing anger. This may happen in private apartments as well as in circles of common interest or in public gatherings, like mass rallies. Basically, it is the disagreement that causes the stemming of the germ called anger. It is followed by a verbal flow of words or a gesture that expresses the inner feelings. In some cases, the gravity of anger cannot be fathomed.

It depends on the type of subject dealt with in a particular context.

The onlookers in the public gallery in Parliament in any country are made to see how some of the politicians get angry over matters of controversy. Some public representatives are oversensitive to the point that they exhibit the anger in them than the reason and scholarship accountable to the others. This trend goes on until someone in a sane frame of mind comes and advises how one should behave verbally honouring the others in the house. As some veteran politicians used to say the ‘political anger’ or anger caused verbally is temporary and ceases to function when the debate is over.

How true this statement, is a subject that has to be dealt carefully and logically. The anger in politicians never last too long if the verbal combats prolong. If that happens, that would be a disaster. As such the popular dictum is that there are no friends and foes in politics.

Climax of disaster

This has become a catchphrase today. As a common phenomenon no one likes to see people in angry moods depicting not only angry faces, but also expressing angry words that reach a climax of disaster and ill will. If allowed to be spread via mass media channels, the anger gets magnified and amplified.

One of our good old musicians, who is no longer with us, happened to be so angry. At times he used to scold the members of the orchestra and even the singers and leave the place of practice. But quite soon he would return as if giving the feeling that nothing had happened in terms of personal anger.

This recalls the saying that ‘anger dies quickly with a good man’. He would apply his heart and soul and create melodies to the extent that they had become lasting pieces of musical compositions. He is remembered not for his anger, but for his skills unsurpassed. But he is also remembered in certain moments for his anger.

But the fact remains that he had not given way to any disastrous harm to any one in particular.

He is remembered for his melodies which has ushered in a era of serenity in most of us who love his talents and forget his occasional anger. When in anger count a hundred, goes another saying. This counting process had been a guiding principle for many individuals. The Indian statesman Nehru says in his reminiscences written to his daughter Vijayalakshmi, that he was sometimes angry with the colonial rulers to the point that he used to pen his anger in order to alleviate them.

This was an expression of my anger in my own words, he says. Then he further comments that once the expression is put on the paper, the anger dies down gradually. This gives way to more thoughts. Most prison notes give the impression that the medicine for anger is the expression of the feeling expressed in words. In Greece, this has come down in theatrical terms as ‘catharsis’ or getting rid of pity and anger.

The anger in us is one of the deadliest enemies. It may lead a person into various directions such as self pity and frustration, which will reach the point of suicidal efforts as well as homicidal pursuits. When we are overenthusiastic over some thing we tend to be in a struggle.

living conditions

Perhaps if unachieved, we get angry over the unachieved level of our living conditions. The feeling is expressed in terms of ‘self anger’ or ‘self deception’ on somebody who may have possibly stood on the way in obstruction. Anger also rests on our affinities as well as on our enmities. We dislike to see our own group of members who are likeminded get into trouble. As such the affinities getting tightened is seen, but the failure too follows in certain moments, and to achieve the goals, may pave the way for group anger.

Sick minded

On the other hand the same group may have common enemies about whom a feeling of animosity may arise giving way to anger. Thus the elements of anger and hatred are observed as interlinked. Psychiatrists have often shown cases of patients who are observably angry are sick minded. They have to be treated or else the anger will reach the point when the said patients may bring more harm than good to the masses. It is observed that some schoolteachers get angry with some of their students depending on the diversity of opinions.

Some university lecturers get angry with their students, over controversial ideological matters forgetting the fact that they have been undergraduates some time ago. The punishments are imposed mercilessly. Drivers of vehicles get angry with their fellow drivers and bring more disaster in their respective functions. Some police officers get angry in their respective functions.

Some high class administrators get angry with their subordinates depending on the issues they are entrusted.

Anger in all forms is the worst enemy for good living conditions and public relationships. Angry mobs tend to violate the existing peace and harmony in a society. At times even the expected serenity of the clergy is also seen wiped off in growing anger.

No modern technician who is well trained in his or her technology can afford to quarrel with his tools. As a result of anger things lost go beyond the things gained. The subject of ethics lurks in all subject areas, in order to help people to calm down anger. As Aristotle said centuries ago, ‘anger restrained is wisdom gained.’ - Professor Sunanda Mahendra