The Pit Post | BITING

The Pit Post | BITING




clawing, kicking and punching have saved many an innocent victim, human and animal, from serious injury or death. Okay, animals, excluding primates a rung or two under man, can’t punch, but there is no doubt in my mind that they would if they could. Fighting, necessary for survival, is preceded by one of the most primitive of emotions – anger. It is as fundamental as joy or pain or fear. Social psychologists place it in the “triad of moral emotions,” the other two being contempt and disgust. They link anger with the violation of individual rights, contempt with the violation of communal codes, and disgust with divinity, or violations of purity-sanctity. Many years ago I had a favorite cat. His name was Voodoo. He was black. I found him in a wooded park when he was just a scrawny kitten, and we soon became inseparable. In June of 1990 I left him with a friend for 6 weeks while I set up my new life in Italy. Upon my return, Voodoo ignored me.  A lover scorned. Disgusted with me, held in contempt, I became the object of his hostility. He took a dump in my shoe, flicked his tail at me and walked away when I discovered it, as if to say you will never leave me again. He moved to Italy with me and lived a good, long life. We are not cats, but we do much worse to one another when we are angry. We have neglected to repair the leaky faucet, repeatedly left our underwear or socks on the floor, are spending more time with our friends than our partner. We reach across in the dark for some human warmth and we are brushed away like a pesky fly. The faucet is fixed, the underwear and socks are picked up, the friends are benched. And all the next day. Anger precedes action, the result of which without we do not escape danger, we do not learn, we do not rise when we fall, and perhaps we do not survive. And yet society works hard to inhibit the expression of it. We frown upon those who exhibit it in public. Teachers, from Jesus to Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. to those of us who spend our lives in the classroom, instruct the young to “turn the other cheek,” to “count to ten,” to not take a dump in anyone’s shoe. In the 2003 comedy, Anger Management, Jack Nicholson’s Dr. Buddy Rydell tells Dave, played by Adam Sandler, that “Temper is the only thing you can’t get rid of by losing it.” So, while no one is suggesting to take continuous slaps or shit, no one is promoting uncontrolled rage. Aristotle said it best over 2000 years ago: “Anyone can become angry, that is easy…but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way…this is not easy.”  So get angry, but get angry at yourself first; if you act the fool though you weren’t born stupid, if you don’t try again when you fail, if you don’t get up when you have been knocked down, no matter how hard. Get angry, and then act accordingly.

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