Digital Access

Digital Access
Access crestonnews.com from all your digital devices and receive the latest news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, sports, opinion, community and more!
Column

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

Days after 9/11, I had learned that a friend’s brother, then in high school, was violently attacked.

“We’re Jewish Israelis. Not Muslim,” I remember her saying with such deep sadness in her tone.

For days, weeks and months – as Americans sat glued to their televisions watching the media coverage – communities across the world were banding together to grieve, begin recovery efforts and vowing to fight terrorism.

Many individuals were doing what they could to aid in recovery and rebuilding efforts. America bore witness to the heroic efforts of New York City’s first responders running into danger without hesitation; others helped by donating blood, money and basic necessities. Some provided emotional support for those in grief by hosting or attending prayer vigils or proudly displaying American flags and “Never Forget” sloganed gear.

But then there were the others. The others were starting to band together in an effort to execute vigilante justice against those they felt were responsible for the events – or at least people who resembled them, such as my friend’s teenage brother.

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

Last year, I had the honor of interviewing Alan Worth of Prescott, whose brother was killed in action while serving in Vietnam. As he reflected on the loss of his brother 40 years prior, I could still feel Alan’s pain as he shared his story.

Alan, a high school student at the time, said his anger drove him to pick fights with Vietnamese kids at school.

“I was going to enlist to try to go over there, but my mom broke down again and begged me not to go. So I didn’t. I kind of regret that in a way, but in other ways I don’t,” he said. “I feel bad now, being a mature adult looking back at myself – forcing a fight on a kid who had no idea, who probably came out of a bad deal himself ... but I had a lot of hatred in my heart.”

The words that flowed from Alan’s mouth were poignant. I could tell that Alan’s demeanor and emotional intelligence are a sharp contrast to that of his teenage self and his admission took great strength and vulnerability to share with me.

As I listened to his words, it reminded me of my friend’s brother, and how angry it made me. It made me think of how the web of anger spreads and what, if anything, we could do make it stop.

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

Fifty years ago, Fred Rogers appeared before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications to challenge proposed cuts to public broadcasting. His purpose for being there was ultimately to ensure he could continue to help children grow as confident, competent, and caring human beings and to speak constructively to the negative feelings felt by some.

Mister Rogers then asked Senator Pastore if he could share the lyrics of one of his songs that he felt were important.

“What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite? When the whole world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems right ... Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go?”

While some may dismiss Mister Rogers’ suggestions as an over-simplification of solutions to combat anger, in my opinion, the man got a number of things right: there are positive ways humans can channel deep anger, emotional intelligence is learned, it needs to be learned early in life, and its ALL of our responsibility to model the behavior we hope to see in younger generations.

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

What many of you don’t know is that I used to co-facilitate court-ordered anger management groups for male parolees at the Community Connection Resource Center in San Diego.

“How did you do it?” is something I was frequently asked.

I’ll admit, the crimes some of these men committed were shocking and heartbreaking to me – the list of offenses ran the gamut from assault, rape, murder, etc. But, the thing that allowed me to overcome my own biases and anger toward my clients was this: I listened.

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

Through listening, I learned.

I learned that my experience is unlike that of another.

I learned that my parents are better than many others.

I learned that some people never learned to constructively process their feelings, and in turn modeled behavior that taught their offspring to do the same. And while I agree that the lesson of being good citizens, neighbors and friends must start in the home, I learned that not everyone has that kind of home. So it’s on all of us.

‘What do you do with the mad that you feel?’

So, as we grow angry about the inaction of our government, or the threats we feel when the media depicts sh*t hitting the fan, or the anger felt when we are wronged by someone we love, please just give some pause and listen. It might change the reaction. It might change the dialog. It might instill some compassion. It might just make the darkness a bit brighter.

Loading more