Nearly Dead Angry Cyclist!

How to approach life? Now, that’s a question-and-a-half. Today, for part of the ride, I was following a cyclist who was pulling on the bars, rocking his body and stomping on the pedals; everything about him oozed anger and frustration. Over Henley bridge and turning left to Remenham there’s a sharp bend. He lined up to take it fast and thus swung wide; a small Peugeot came around – perfectly reasonably positioned on the road and slowly enough – and Mr Angry missed being sprawled on its bonnet by a whisker.

Mr Angry let loose a stream of hollered invective and stomped on. The driver pulled a ‘what the hell was that all about’ face and I could only shrug my shoulders in sympathy.

And I’m relating this simply because it made me think about anger (again). I get angry; I think anger can be a useful force for change – but it needs to be positive and it needs to be directed. Going through life with a generalised unspecific rage isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. I don’t want to go out splattered on someone’s bonnet, with an unspecific rage as my final emotion.

It often seems there’s a widespread feeling that anger’s inherently bad but that seems to me to be promoting a neutralised and ultimately ineffectual response to a world in which a lot of things genuinely merit a more powerful response than that. We shouldn’t be condemning or trying to nullify anger; we should be learning to focus and direct it, gaining energy from it, using that energy where it needs to be used … and then approaching the rest of the world with appropriate equanimity.

I found myself wondering, too, about whose interests are safeguarded by the promotion of this notion that anger is somehow bad. The answer is the obvious one: those who are gaining most from the iniquities of status quo.