Saturday morning, October 27, 2018, a man with an AR-15 and 3 Glock handguns walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, yelling “All the Jews need to die.” He proceeded to kill eleven people and wound eight others. Four policemen were shot as first responders. Are you beyond fed up with this happening over and over again all across our country?
I am. I am angry and want desperately to step out of inaction, but I also want to do it with compassion and grace, rather than stirring up the anger and hatred that seems to be endemic now. That anger and hatred has been stirred up by intentionally divisive political tactics that began in 1980. We have been driven apart by changing “common good’ to “tax and spend,” “caring for one another” to “entitlements,” and so many other ways of showing compassion to identifying the “other” as a threat to one’s own well-being – regardless of the particulars: immigrants, race, religious identity, sexual identity – you name it!
Karla McLaren, author of Emotional Genius and The Language of Emotions, suggests that anger is a very important emotion that tells us when our boundaries have been shattered and need to be acknowledged and rebuilt. She also offers ways to release that anger that don’t hurt one’s self or others. That is the first step to begin actually making a difference in the larger world.
We need to join with others who share our UU values, our Purposes and Principles, and actively work to change our gun laws, to change the language of discourse, which has become so coarse, hatred-filled, and oppositional. We need to take our power-within and join it with the power-within of others to create power-with.
We also need to refill our hearts and minds and spirits with compassion for ourselves, for those who have been driven to hatred, for those paralyzed by powerlessness. That energy of love can cause us to recognize the power we have and put that to work for the greater good of all. That is another great source of an energizing feeling of gratitude that links us to one another and empowers all.
I invite any of you who are interested get a copy of The Language of Emotions from me and join a class of the same name which will meet on Monday evenings from 7 – 9 pm beginning the first Monday in January to learn to gather the power of our emotions to heal ourselves and the world.
Blessings of anger and gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving,
Gretchen Woods, AIM