Ironically, I am writing this while in Montrouge, France, which is on the southern rim of
Paris. Montrouge is where I come to DISCONNECT from home & work. And sadly, Paris
is awash in political unrest right now with the Yellow Vest rebellion which fits this BLOG
topic: “Anger and Politics”.
Remember that most of us as we were growing up were told by “wise elders” to be
careful when the extended family gets together for big dinners like Thanksgiving, or
when groups friends get together for dinner, “to keep peace, do not EVER discuss
religion nor politics if you don’t want fights or arguments.”
All people have differing views of politics and religion. There are thousands of religions,
recognized and not official ones there to meet our needs for belief as they come up, or
for non-believers there are also beliefs. Years ago when I was switching Universities to
get closer to home, I chose a Lutheran University. It was the 60's. I was shocked to
find out there were 30 or so synods (divisions of a church) of Lutherans. I was young
and naive to believe a religion was just a religion, not multiple parts with varying rules.
I had grown up in a town in New Jersey that had one Community Protestant Church for
all Protestant faiths and one Catholic Church. We knew about Jewish folks who lived in
New York City and came to our beach community in the summer. A simple cookie cutter
view of Life! But I learned differently in time.
In California, I was on an Ecumenical Council of Churches for 12 years of a Reformed
Jewish, Catholic, and 5 Protestant congregations. When I became leader for 4 years, I
would emphasize at our monthly meetings, and at the twice a year Ecumenical
multifaith Services, what commonalities we share... not differences. Which faith we end
up in should be one that we feel comfortable with. We often stick with the one we were
born into in our families and later ‘rebel’ and switch faiths as we find one that fits us
better. Or one we marry into, or find on our own.
Politics should have a similar mindset, “what is our common focus, goal?” We join a
political party because they meet more of our beliefs than the other party or parties
when that option is available. Or many folks, myself included, have registered over the
years as Independent so we can choose at the time. In the USA, politicians should be
looking at what can we ALL do to make things better for the USA, not for our own
needs, mindset, or our political party. The US was established on the basis of the
government having a “checks and balances system”. There are the Executive,
Legislative and Judicial Branches that oversee each other and should sort things out.
Being in Europe part time over the past 20 years, has shown me that many
governments in the large countries do change gears from time to time. We have been
used to 4 year or 8 year terms for our President, but I see right now the extreme drama
in France is challenging their administration. The other night, thousand of folks in
Yellow Vests went out to protest and for a year or so we’ve been hearing of some
violent protests here in Paris with buildings being burned and street fights. It is their
way of saying to their leader, WE WANT CHANGE, listen to us NOW. Britain, Germany,
even mellow Canada are currently challenging their leaders.
That Eurostyle mindset has not been present in the US much in it’s history. Of course,
the original formation of the United States was to challenge European control. We
started with the concept, “United we Stand, Divided we Fall” to get folks riled up and
ready to fight the European armies to make the US become it’s own country. We had
challenges during the Civil War times with two major mindsets, the North vs the South.
Mostly over slavery and segregation issues but many others were included. As we all
know, while the North was declared winner, the South kept many of their own ways for
many years. Even today, they often still have a differing mindset.
Remember, we elect folks to represent us so we are not MICRO MANAGING everything
which is hard to do with 300+ million folks in our country. Also those other countries
(except Canada) are geographically smaller than our country so the USA offers more
opportunity to have differing views. Though many folks don’t travel and don’t really
know what it is like to live in crowded NYC, or to live in sparsely populated Montana
with its winter temps of -15F at times. Each area has differing needs for sure. But we
have survived. Yes, during the Vietnam War times we had many violent protests
against the way the Federal Government was handling things. Watergate and the Nixon
drama also got things resolved... eventually.
HOWEVER FOLKS, in the Vietnam, Nixon, Civil War traumas we DID NOT HAVE OUR
SOCIAL MEDIA so the we hear things constantly, 24/7! This can add to our stress and
THUS to our ANGER stockpile & reservoir and bring us to BOIL easier. We are
bombarded by info. Back in the 60's n 70's, Newspapers (yes those sheets of paper that
folks sat and read) and Television were the info sources. At that point most TV news
was a half hour at 6 pm and 15 to 30 minutes at 11 pm... DONE! Then they started to
add other News shows at other hours in the evening and some even added some day
time news... by the 90's we had lots of news available but NOT 24/7. And we have
never had a President who directly connected with everyone via Twitter. So at anytime,
he can tweet his feelings (unfiltered) to you, and you, and you... I miss the days
personally when Saturday and Sunday (and Holidays like Easter) were OFF DAYS for the
government. We don’t have a respite from being bombarded by updates on the
government issues & hassles so IT IS BUILDING stress and angst which leads many to
blow up or reach their peak where they cross the boundary and GET ANGRY at other
folks, or pound tables. Hell, even mad at our pets at times just because we have
reached our MAX stockpile of angst, frustration and we blow up easier. When things are
not able to be retreated from to find our solitude, we stress to max. Suicides go up at
times like this, and sadly have.
BTW, I remind us that compromise, and adjustment are the only ways to survive. NO,
you don’t have to sell out and feel defeated, but recognize there are times when we
have to cooperate to get ahead. I talk about a ship that sank off the coast of New
Jersey many many years ago. It would go from NYC sailing south to Cuba along the
coast. It was on an overnight cruise to go and do gambling in Cuba before we stopped
dealing with Cuba in the 60's. In the 1930's, the ship was heading south, parallel to the
Jersey shore. It caught fire and life boats were lowered. It was just off the coast, the
folks on board could see the lit up boardwalk of Asbury Park... SAFETY! Security. As
the lifeboats were lowered, they were parallel to ship as they went into the water.
Lifeboats are designed to go either way, so both ends are pointed. Think IF six
democrats and 6 republicans ended up in the same lifeboat, because of their ideological
differences, 6 would row south and the other 6 would row toward the north... UNTIL
one or two said, “Ok, I don’t agree with your politics, with your ideals, but I WANT TO
LIVE and we can argue when we GET to shore!! So I’ll row your way.” Then they could
work on resolving their issues once they were safe on land. Or they could have wasted
all their energy rowing in opposite directions and likely drown while having safety just a
short row in to shore.
DISCONNECT... YES, I recommend you all to find some time to disconnect and chill.
Find some inner serenity. This is a very stressful time - but remember we only grow in
times of angst, consternation, frustration and pathos. When things go super well, we
become complacent and lulled into a stoic sense of Okness... So be prepared to keep
rolling by taking time out. Therapists have preached TIME-OUTS for years. The simple
idea of when you are mad count to 10, when really mad count to 100. A moment of
anger can bring you thousands of moments of regret! FIND a place where you can
disconnect, and NOT just by finishing a bottle of Jim Beam! A place where you are in
control of your life and feelings but where you parent yourself and allow yourself to
take a break. Turn off the phone for a bit, take a break for a few hours from Social
Media. Go for a hike, listen to relaxing music not aggressive music such as rap talking
about aggressive things. For me, my trips do that, I don’t speak French but I come here
a couple of times a year. I don’t know most of what folks are saying around me on the
subway, in restaurants and can just reflect - yes, sort of sounds selfish but I’ve self-
parented myself enough to give myself permission to take care of ME.
A reminder too, as an Anger Management therapist doing court ordered Anger
Management classes, when I mention getting mad at something, someone usually
jumps in with “Hey Doc, you are not supposed to get angry.” I remind them that
getting angry without letting my anger get out of hand (remember Anger is one letter
shy of Danger) IS ANGER MANAGEMENT. Yes, I remind them if I get mad at them,
telling them firmly I’m not happy with them is anger management, spraying them with
pepper spray is NOT! It is how far we go before we realize we’re angry and get control
of ourselves... Also remember that others are frustrated at things too, and often finding
others feel as you do can help you realize you ARE HUMAN, YOU ARE MORTAL and
YOU can’t resolve every issue.
Ttyl, til next time... dr. g.