Anger, outrage, frustration all those bright hot emotions. They are at once motivating and destructive to anything that you would like to get done. It is not that any of the readers here don’t know it, they see it in the anger of others. “How could X say that, it is so full of anger that even though she has a point, no one will listen” is something that we have all thought. Yet how often do we look at ourselves and see the same is true for us?
Let’s take the current flare up of the Palestinian/Israeli grudge match. If one wants to be angry, outraged and frustrated could there be a situation more suited to finding it than this one? There is a long history of shit between the two groups of people that want to call the same area of land home. There are killings, destruction of property, retaliations, attacks, counter attacks and tactics on all sides of this that have caused a huge amount of pain for far too many of our fellow humans.
It is really enough to make any person sick to their stomach, regardless of the side that you find the most sympathy for. That is really the problem. How could anyone defend the killing of citizens by suicide bombing? How could anyone defend the destruction of homes filled with civilians just to get at some of the enemy? How could anyone defend the fact that there are those that say one side has no right to exist as an independent state? How could anyone defend the callousness that the other side exhibits?
Yet on every side there seem to be those that will down play the acts on their side that are indefensible while playing up those of the enemy. There is this idea, the tyranny of the “or” where one thing or the other must be true and right while the other thing must be false and wrong. The Dog would like to suggest that we stop engaging in that tyranny. In this conflict (not just the recent one but the over arching one) there is no side that is blameless or totally justified in their actions. The conflict has gone on too long and been too bloody for that to be true, if it ever were.
This is an important idea, as without it we will stand here and watch this cycle again and again and again. There is no doubt in the Dog’s mind that everyone on every side of this issue has a human justification for their opinion. Whether you have a zero tolerance for acts of terror, whether you just care about children and the general population of either country, whether you feel that the actions of Israel make things less or more stable all of these the Dog is sure are motivated from the best of motives. But if we allow those very real causes to push us into the bright hot place of anger, then we lose twice. Not only will our arguments be less effective, they will mostly be spent trying to convince those fools that don’t share our views of how wrong they are, not what we should do about the problem.
Now, you might say that this is easy for the Dog to say, as he really has no horse in this race. But the Dog is talking from personal and family experience. The Dog is part of a sprawling Irish family. This is the kind of family that was so partisan for the Republic of Ireland that when I was a kid we sang “If you hate the English Army, clap your hands” instead of “if you’re happy and you know it”. We stopped buying any thing from any English company when Bobby Sands died from his hunger strike. We are the type of family that cursed the French and Napoleon for coming late to the 1798 rebellion, like it had happened last week. Like the Palestinian /Israeli conflict the problems of N. Ireland had gone on for generations. Tit for tat violence and terrorism was the way of things and there was no place for anything but being right about our grievance and the hell with those damn Royal lovers!
But in the 1990’s something change, both here and in Ireland. There was an understanding that if we wanted more for the young men of our villages and towns than an early and violent death, we would have to put our very real wrongs aside. That the Orangemen had hanged fifteen members of the Dogs family nearly 200 years ago, that the English had humiliated Catholics in the streets of Belfast, was not enough reason to keep dying and fighting. We could have peace, if we could put our anger aside. The only reason that we would is that the other side would. It was and is still, fairly fragile, but in the end anger lost its brightness, its hotness and so we could find a way to peace.
So, what is the point of all this? Simple really, that if you want progress, you have to give up the bright hotness of anger. It is not that you should not be motivated by outrages, they are great motivators, but if you give into the anger, then all you can get is anger. Justice, peace, harmony, they are cool emotions; they can not survive alongside the blast furnace of anger. Which leads us to the question, what is more important? Being right and on the side of the moral high ground, or finding a way to end the human pain that this conflict routinely inflicts?
The floor is yours.