Natural Life Magazine

There's Anger in the Air

There's Anger in the Air
By Wendy Priesnitz

Is the world getting angrier or am I just getting more observant? Or thinned skinned? Or angry? Politics are angry, highways are angry, emailers and chat groupies and bloggers are angry, talk radio is angry, supermarket shoppers are angry. Art is angry, music is angry. Even little kids are angry.

Oh, says I with my usual first reaction to most things: Maybe there’s a book here! Um, no. There already are enough. Plug “anger” into the search line at Amazon and you get over 300,000 books and articles – everything from Anger Management For Dummies to Harriet Lerner’s wonderfully useful The Dance of Anger. Sadly, there are also lots of anger books aimed at children. But managing their anger is not what they need; they feel invisible and ignored by adults and are desperate to be seen and known, rather than taken to yet another lesson, sports activity, or anti-bullying session.

But why are the rest of us so angry and impatient? Well, we’re living in anxious times, when fear about the future is hard to shake: What’s going to happen with climate change, the economy, terrorism, politics, the food crisis, the various wars happening around the world? And maybe we feel angry and frustrated because the problems seem too huge and we don’t know what we can do to fix them. There are other reasons, I think, or at least mitigating factors. Many of us are living life too fast, trying to cram too many things into a frantic day, too tightly scheduled to allow time for anything to go wrong or to get in our way, let alone to breathe. Plus, many of those books (that is, the ones that don’t preach the opposite) tell us that by expressing our anger we are living authentically and that swallowing it will make us sick (which may be true, but the anger should be focused where it won't hurt).

Beyond that, these authors might have a point. Maybe we’re not being angry and aggressive enough! Given all the crises out there, maybe we should be out in the streets angrily screaming for change. The New York Times writer Bob Herbert has said that our “anger quotient is much too low.” If, by that, he means that we should pressure our leaders to make this a safer, kinder planet, I agree.

However, I’m not angry (well, not most of the time). And that’s because in the midst of the doom and gloom there is much positive news these days. Perhaps the negative is creating the positive as people begin to figure out how to make lemonade from all the lemons being thrown at us. 

Among the things we don’t cover often enough in Natural Life's news section are the remarkably fast way in which shoppers worldwide are remembering to use cloth bags and other reusable containers – and that retailers are moving away from plastic; a flurry of laws against health- and environment-destroying things like cosmetic pesticides and smoking in vehicles, new carbon taxes, the increase in the popularity of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles…you get the picture.

So be angry if it helps. But while pointing that anger in a useful direction, we should all take a deep breath, smile, and calm down. I think we’re on the right path. And hope is as constructive as anger.

Wendy Priesnitz is the co-founder and editor of Natural Life Magazine, where an earlier version of this appeared as an editorial in 2008. She is also the author of 13 books and a contributor to many more.


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