Sacred Anger and the Power of Hard Love
“Love does not imply pacifism.” – Derrick Jensen
As it stands, all of us are victims of an extremely unhealthy culture. In a culture of conquer-control-consume-repeat we are endlessly conquered, controlled, consumed and forced into repeating and facilitating this diabolical process to no end. We’re like a bunch of spoiled-rotten, whiny children, taking our vexations out on each other and the environment when we should be digging down deep and transforming our comfortable inertia into courageous action. The question is: how do we break the cycle. One answer may be through sacred anger and hard love.
Here’s the thing: life was not meant to be comfortable. Sure, discover comfort where you can, but you’ll never grow if you don’t get uncomfortable every once in a while. Just like our culture will forever stagnate and degenerate if we don’t challenge how comfortable and contained it keeps us, especially when those comforts are systematically destroying the world. Like Anais Nin wrote, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” Let’s choose not to fail. Let’s choose not to give into this kind of death. Let’s choose courage instead.
In our culture, anger is seen as politically incorrect. But deep, focused anger can be a boon of sacred energy if we can learn to use it wisely and courageously. Attentive, meditative anger can even be a form of empathy, as anger is often a natural response to horrific situations. Sometimes anger is not only the natural reaction, but the only moral reaction.
This is the kind of anger that lifts us up and compels us to protect the weak against the overreaching powerful or the poor against the overindulgent rich. The type of righteous anger that flips over tables like Christ did against the greedy bankers, the type of anger that would rather live a hard life of freedom than an easy life of slavery. Such anger is sacred precisely because it instills in us an unstoppable courage.
We should not be expected to remain calm and happy in the face of ecocide, rape, misogyny, slavery, and greed. Rather we should be compelled toward righteous anger. We should be obliged to help victims become warriors, screaming from the rooftops, “Take the Goddamned red pill for Christ’s sake! Become a freedom unto yourself! You are your own hero! Allow yourself to be worthy. Allow yourself to be extraordinary! Get angry! Get really pissed off! Then grab the bull by the horns and pin that bastard to the ground!” Like Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”
But when push comes to shove, we are just too damn comfortable to care, and too damn polite to speak out. We need to get uncomfortable. We need to rediscover sacred ruthlessness, divine anger, and holy rage, leaving nothing to the inertia of chance and everything to the responsibility of choice; otherwise we fail to be responsible with our power. We cannot consume our way to sustainability. We cannot pillage our way to balance with nature. We cannot lie, cheat, steal, or trap our way to freedom. We cannot tyrannize our way to equal rights. Something has to give. And that something is our overindulgent comfort and complacent inertia.
“What is the real origin of my own anger?” wrote Jean-Yves Leloup. “Is it the ego defending its territory, or is it something that has its source in the desire for the well-being of all?” Sacred anger that spills over into empathy and compassion becomes a very powerful force for moral good known as Hard Love. Hard love is ruthless love. It teaches even as it destroys outdated worldviews. It educates even as it shatters obsolete mental paradigms. It tutors even as it crushes parochial perspectives.
It reveals the wisdom within all wounds. It forces a mirror in front of our victim-hood, screaming at us to rise above being a victim of the world and to become the world instead. It slaps us with the truth while revealing exactly how often we’ve been kissed with lies.
It mocks our sense of deservedness: that whiny “I deserve a vacation. I deserve a brand new car. I deserve love. I deserve to be rich. I deserve to be perfect. Wah-wah-wah and woe-is-me!” while exposing us to the absolute fact that we don’t “deserve” anything but what we’ve earned through our own blood, sweat, and tears. And even then we may not get what we want. So it goes.
What we need is a global coup d’état. What we need is to break the trance. What we need is to get uncomfortable. What we need is a Great Rewilding. What we need is to shift the current unsustainable paradigm. And the way we do these things is through sacred anger and hard love. It feels like an impossible task. But no task has ever been more important. On the detritus of the outdated, unsustainable system, we will create something entirely new and sustainable.
We must, or we doom ourselves to failure and “a kind of death.” WWJD? He would flog greedy bankers in public, for one. So I beseech you all: discover your own righteous anger, become a freedom unto yourself, channel hard love, open the paradigm and ascend. The world needs you to not be crippled by fear, inertia, and comfort. It needs you to be filled with courage, compassion, and proactive, interdependent love.