How can I stop feeling angry about the world?

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How can I stop feeling angry about the world?


There are so many ethical and political problems now. It seems like we need a New Internationalist view. Here comes the Agony Uncle!

Dear Agony Uncle, Help! I am afraid of losing all ideas of possibilities. I see how people around me talk so much about unimportant things when the world’s problems are more and more urgent. Hate and finding someone to blame is part of so much politics and not the serious issues. It makes me very angry. If I think clearly, I know progress often comes in small steps, and that every positive achievement is a good thing, and that the good fight is never finished. But this does not help me enough. And I understand that my anger does not help. But with the stupid things people are doing and thinking in the world it seems difficult not to be angry. What can I do?


Angry Person

Dear Angry Person, As Terry Eagleton says, there is nothing worse than simple optimism, Optimism thinks that things will work out in the future for the best. But there are not many optimists in the world now. Many people feel the way you do. Terry Eagleton says that hope without optimism is much more important for the future than only optimism. But what should our hope depend on?

Perhaps the answer is in the feeling of anger itself. Political philo¬sophers and Buddhists say that anger is not useful. But, as the philosopher Amia Srinivasan says, anger can also be a force for organization and action and the fear of mass anger can also help those in power to change their ways. This has been obvious for black and feminist thinkers. Audrey Lorde says women’s anger makes people free and strong. It’s when we feel nothing that we’re really in trouble.

There is a lot of anger now and there are a lot of people with feelings of injustice, for example, the Occupy movement and the leftist protests against Prime Minister Modi. This shows that this is a time when more seems possible. From the 1980s until the 2008 financial crisis, most people thought that there is nothing ese we can do. The big crises since 2008 show us that things can change, that the future can be different from the present. Politics is back and the job of politics is to give people power to do something. This is one way out of anger.

But if the feeling of anger is still too much, remember that art also can help us. A film I like is Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (2018). It is about a priest, played by Ethan Hawke. He meets someone from his church who finds the problem of climate change too much to think about. And he is thinking about violent action against himself and others. It offers no easy answers but love. But great art helps us in difficult times, not as entertainment, but to remind us that understanding life is work in progress, that never ends. Perhaps we humans are not so stupid after all.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed)