Sunday, September 27, 2009

anger vs. its opposite

i am an angry person. when i was a little girl, i was very sweet and silly. i always stood out because i have always been really tall (with noticeably fucked up teeth) and always wore weird clothes, and also, i think even if i didn't have these physical things that made me stand out, my personality was always a bit different and so i would have stood out anyway. standing out got me picked on a lot. the year i was picked on the most was 6th grade, and that was the last year i tried to counter people's irrational anger towards me for being different with sweetness and understanding -- i used to actually try to reason with bullies. some girl would spill a bottle of permanent ink on my favorite blouse, then push me, and i would say something like "why did you do that? i didn't do anything to you." 6th grade is the year i really, truly learned that some people are always going to take advantage of kindness, and i got a chip on my shoulder that year that's never left me -- i've been angry, embrace punk ethics, been an advocate for myself in commerce situations -- basically i've gone out of my way not to get taken advantage of or let the people i love get taken advantage of by the mainstream world, the normies, since getting pushed too far, one time too many. by 7th grade, i didn't bother to argue with the kids picking on me when they'd try to insult me by saying i was a devil worshipper or lesbian, it was just like 'fuck yeah, i'm a lesbian devil worshipper, what are you going to do about it, asshole?' this is still the way i believe in being. when i was 16 my first punk band played its first show -- i hadn't even been to a punk club before that night -- and we played for skinheads -- i had no idea about skinhead culture then, and not enough street smarts -- it was ridiculous that my little riot grrrl punk band was playing that venue, on that night (we were playing with a bunch of oi! bands) and when the people in the audience (grown men picking on a teenage girl) yelled insults at me, i didn't back down -- when i walked out the front door that night, there was a gang of at least 30 people waiting to beat me up, possibly to the point of killing me. someone broke a bottle over my head, i fell to the pavement, someone grabbed my hair and dragged me around by it, and several people kicked the shit out of me as i lay on the ground. now people tease me sometimes for being a misanthropist but see -- i have my reasons. i thought i was going to be killed that night, as i struggled to get out of the fray i was in the middle of, and all i could think was 'this is so unfair, that i'm going to die this way.' i'm a good person, why should bad things happen to me, that's a question i ask a lot. i used to be friends with a lot of grown ups when i was a teenager, and a lot of them were at that show, and i still think 'why didn't they warn me that something bad was going to happen that night?' -- most of them knew something bad was going to happen, and split before it did. but some people were there when i got attacked, and just left the scene. i think it is in some people's nature to be heroic, and that when you see something awful happen, it is either in your nature to, without thinking about it first, jump in and help, or else to stay out of it. my friends rhani and matt, my mom, this big guy who was a stranger, these were all people who jumped into the middle of the crowd of people attacking me and tried to get me out of there. bravery and dignity are two traits that mean so much to me, and i've always wanted to be a heroic person, maybe to the point of some sort of delusional self-importance, and i always think that, if i'd been an onlooker that night instead of the person the violence was happening to, i would have jumped in and tried to protect the person being beaten up, but who knows. anyway, since that night, i've pretty much been on my guard, like a soldier who knows there are landmines hiding somewhere among the weeds. many of the people i respect the most are pacifists or buddhists (passivity seems to be a big part of the buddhist religion, but i don't claim to understand all of its tenets, since i haven't studied it, so i don't intend to attack your religion, if you a a buddhist, these are just my gut reactions), and that aspect of passivity in these peoples' characters is always disappointing to me. i don't believe that war is always wrong. for instance, even though there is proof that the u.s. did not get involved in WW II for humanitarian reasons, nonetheless, if we didn't get involved in that war, just think of how many more people would have been killed in concentration camps. it was violence that started that war but also violence that ended it.

but i am also an existentialist, an athiest, and i think that things happen for no reason -- things just happen, a pattern that's a non-pattern. so what is the point of being so angry? or, maybe i am not really an existentialist, because i believe in goodness, and i have not read enough about the philosophical root of existentialism to know if believing in goodness makes me a lousy existentialist. i have a fighter's personality because i hate, fucking hate, the bad guy winning. why should assholes bully good, smart weirdos. Why can't we turn around and pow! -- punch the bad guy square in the jaw?

i just don't know if what i believe in is pointless. i know i'm getting nowhere. nobody wants to hire me, nobody wants to publish my writing, people i love are getting poorer every day or literally dying because they are the underdog, they are the weirdos who weren't born pre-disposed to play and win at the game of life in the u.s. i know i stress myself out too much worrying about what's fair and unfair, and that stress is what causes aneurysms and ulcers and a negative outlook, and i already have poor health and a negative outlook in spades, i don't need any more of it.

but what is the best way to be? what is the best way to live? is it best to "be like water," as buddhists believe, or to be angry, the way some of the most important people in history were? is anger productive? am i a productive human? these are questions i ask myself.

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