Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Them" as a Social Force

The last time you became angry enough to do something you ordinarily wouldn't came when, in the process of bending to access the contents of the lowest shelf in a cabinet, hopeful of finding a missing saute pan, you rose abruptly enough to bump your head on the edge of an opened cabinet door. The damage inflicted required some days to mend to the point where you could successfully shower without noticing the break in skin continuity. The saute pan, having been flung with great force, might never be quite the same.

You did not need this head-banging incident to remind you of the potential for explosive anger response, much like the impatient genie in the bottle, waiting to be set free. And yet you very well did need the reminder, which in its way links you to brother and sister Homo sapiens.

Each time someone in your immediate vision or in some report you have read acts out on anger, you are reminded of the bond you share with so many of your species, seeing them in some of their performances as something that is no stranger to you in potential. Even strange cultists and political nut cases haunt you as being a reminder of what you could become were you not in some more severe process of editorial guidance. Since your own view of yourself calls out anger as a motivating force, you readily admit not only to its presence within you but of having to put forth considerable effort toward the goal of managing it.

When you speak these days of managing anger, in essence you mean acknowledging its presence, sometimes with a mere nod of recognition, as though you were of two different social strata in a large high school, then looking for a way to laugh the anger back into the shadowy sidelines where you believe it belongs. In that sense, anger is like fire; it can be a useful tool, providing energy and focus, or it can become destructive in the extreme. You can often control your anger with humor, but it is unlikely you will be able to laugh off fire. Thus the damaging effects of anger, a person-centered energy, and fire, a sometimes-neutral-but-often-man-made energy are noted along with the need to be aware of their inflammatory potential.

When you are angry enough to act out, you are no longer the steady, more ordinary you. As you act out, you begin a precarious journey that moves you away from everyday behavior. Anger is not the only path away from everyday behavior; any concentrated pursuit or study is yet another. The more a person pursues his or her craft or discipline, the more pronounced that person's individuality becomes; he or she is actively stepping away from mainstream behavior, thought, modes of execution. The reason for this is simple enough: the more we enter our discipline, the more we acquire individuality of voice and the muscle memory required to implement that voice.

There were times when you strove to achieve uniformity, which is to say a greater connection to acceptable paradigms of behavior, intelligence, response, social characteristics, and even empathy. That didn't work either in your social dealings or in your attempts to achieve greater reach and skill with your writing, your intellectual range, your thinking processes, and your opinions, all of which inhere in your voice and your vision.

You can mercifully see connections between your appetites, goals, behavior, and visions and those of others, yet you tip over toward being more like you than most statistical N samplings variously described as "Them." You are a part of "Them" but you are also the drop of water who recognizes his relationship to the ocean.

Your best chances are with you being you. The consequences may just be all the things you long for.

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