We can’t be mad. We have to be calm. I’ve always been taught that living in Lebanon. I’ve seen violence with my naked eyes and traced wounds with my bare hands. But I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t shout. I had to be calm.
The government here has taken over the country, manipulating the economy and brainwashing the youth into following ruthless leaders. When none of their plans seem to go right, they project their madness onto us, the people. They fire back at protesters with tear gas when they fight for their rights, fail to tackle economic collapse and energy shortages that were caused by their own actions and murder their people on Aug. 4, 2020, after choosing negligence and corruption, divulging their worst intentions. They don’t get punished for that, though. Their lives go on naturally while we rewind our trauma. They are free to happily roam in the places where they gave us scars, right where the Port explosion happened, and in the places where they took away our right to be angry, right where the protests in Downtown Beirut happened. If we ever get mad, if we ever raise our voices and protest to reclaim our most basic human rights, we must sleep with one eye open at night.
Since all the Lebanese people around me, including myself, don’t have the right to be angry, we have either repressed our anger or found ways to cope with it.
Personally, I found solace in my writings. I turned my fears into verses. I sat down in silence and wrote about the sounds of explosions and gunshots. I sat down in peace writing about war. My writing brought me back to my darkest days while also lessening my anger.
In my quest to understand the roots of anger, I delved deep into its philosophy. We get angry for a reason: we feel wronged. I feel wronged. I feel like I deserve justice.
However, as Louis L’Amour puts it: “Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before — it takes something from him.” I didn’t want that. I didn’t need that. I wanted to remain unfazed. Why would I give this much power to a fleeting emotion evoked by a group of hypocritical leaders?
Aristotle, too, has extensively tackled the issue of anger. He describes how there is a proper anger. “Proper” anger can actually be a driving force that pushes us to act instead of stepping back. It is because I am angry that I talk about Lebanon wherever I go, that I write freely and passionately. I have turned anger into something that benefits me and makes me feel successful. Anger allows me to let out my feelings in a peaceful way.
Moreover, being angry allows me to become more determined. Sitting in sorrow doesn’t do me any good. Instead, I must do something to make myself feel better. In Lebanon, that was planning for my future, one where I could get away from the lies, the guilt and the unexpected attacks. I dreamed of furthering my education in the United States. Now that I’m here, I can proudly say that rage is energy you don’t want to waste. Once you use it properly, it will work in your favor. I still feel angry for what’s happening in Lebanon, but I’m no longer scared to be angry because here my voice is not only heard, but solicited. I don’t have to bury my suffering anymore. I am allowed to feel angry, which makes me feel free, more than I’ve ever felt before. I can say out loud why I am angry and think of solutions that can actually be taken into consideration.
However you choose to project your anger, remember to bring everything into your consciousness. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the petty things and make careless mistakes when you are in a high-energy state. Always make sure you properly think about your decisions, the nature of your judgment and how you express it. That way it doesn’t turn back on you.
In fact, sometimes anger is only a sign of a more heart-wrenching pain that grows underneath your skin. It can distract you from that pain and direct your attention elsewhere. Before acting on your anger: listen to yourself, recognize the pain, understand it, touch your scars and heal. The pain may never go away, but it is better than being stuck in a vicious cycle of denial and wrongful actions. The nature of your anger is nuanced; it is something you will have to explore because what can be seen is only surface level. The truth cuts much deeper, pushing you to bleed until your blood dries.
One of the biggest lessons in life is that while it is normal to feel, it is how you manifest how you feel that matters. Allow yourself to feel anger, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t act against it either. Instead, work around your anger to produce something of value to you, to your community and to the greater good. Feelings, including anger, are one aspect of freedom that we deserve to explore, one step towards understanding our human nature.