Good and Angry
On the way to school I walk through a vacant lot that has become a dump. Piles of broken glass, candy wrappers, dirty diapers, and just plain junk are everywhere. In the spring and fall, it stinks and is full of mosquitoes and in the winter, it’s a slushy mess. I get angry every time I walk though there. The dictionary defines anger as a strong feeling of “displeasure and hostility.” It’s more than that, though. Anger is a response to a bad sitution, a response that can make things worse or make them better.
In a bad situation most people naturally feel angry. The root of the word anger is related to the word “strangle,” and it means “to choke to death.” I sure want to strangle that dump each time I go near it. Anger is the right response to a bad situation but what a person does with that anger is what makes the situation get worse or get better.
Anger can become rage which means losing self-control. Two weeks ago when I was walking through that dump I stepped right in a smelly old diaper that was it! I grabbed an old junked shopping cart and flung it on a pile of rotten shingles. It flipped over and smashed a mirror. That felt good, so I started grabbing other stuff and throwing it everywhere, screaming my lungs out. Then I saw two younger kids watching me. I gave up and went home, but the next day, I saw those kids trashing the place. I’d made the vacant lot worse and had taught other kids to do the same.
There’s another use for anger: making things better. When I told my mom about the dump and the kids, she said, “What you’ve got, Son, is righteous indignation. That’s a good kind of ager. Use it to make things better.” She told me that many years ago in England, a bunch of writers called the “Angry Young Men” got mad about the way workers were being treated, and they wrote about it. They did something and things changed for the better I decided to be an angry young man and do something, too. I talked to Principal Jones about the dump, and she asked me to organize a school-sponsored cleanup day. I’m talking to my teachers, my friends, and everybody in my nieghborhood—all the kids who have to walk through there and all the adults who live around it—and we’re going to clean it up.
When a vacant lot in my neighborhood turned into a dump it made sense to be angry. However, it wasn’t until I got good and angry, and discovered a way to use my anger, that something got done. Anger is powerful. It can motivate people to make more trouble, or it can inspire them to do something good. Next time I get angry, I hope I get good and angry!
Good and Angry by Thoughtful Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at k12.thoughtfullearning.com/assessmentmodels/good-and-angry.