Several years ago sitting in front of a clearly angry teenage boy and as he fumed, I bent closer to him and understatedly asked, “Do you feel angry? This isn’t anger,” he replied, “its rage!”
Ever been waiting in line for the movies, your turn at the service window, wherever and someone walks up in front of everyone in line? Feel angry, stuff it down, say something? Hey, get to the back of line; we’ve been waiting here; that’s not fair! Anger is the feeling of being treated unfairly; the teenager had been let down by friends and family for years, justifiably felt he had been treated unfairly.
I recently read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine about the speed at which certain emotions spread in the media, rage/anger, was at the top of the list, “… Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than rage.”1
Remember back to 9.11, the World Trade Center attack, the President’s comments, how we went to war with overwhelming citizen support; anger rages. The current absorption of Crimea by Russia, the fears that were stoked up, racial tensions and suspicions leading to anger, how rapidly it spread and the resulting injuries.
There are a bundle of emotions aside from anger like happy, sad, overwhelmed, frustration; each emotion is like a light going off on the dashboard of our internal car. Just like the gauges on the vehicle they tell how the car is functioning, so do our emotions express how our wants needs and desires are being met. Ignore they signal on the car or our psychological dashboard and you get overheating; maybe even rage.
Which leaves open the question of why does rage move faster than joy? Have you got a thought?
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1. Smithsonian/April 2014, P. 18, Matthew Shaer