OUR CULTURE TELLS US that anger is a problem to be managed. It’s healthier to find closure, be reasonable, mend fences, “process” our pain and move on. But I’m not ready yet. This was no ordinary election—it was a paradigm shift into a new reality. The only way to get ourselves out of this desperate mess is to stay emotional and reject the idea of closure entirely. We must nurture our anger.
The far right knows how to do this well. They do not rationalize their way out of fear—they stoke it. They neither forgive nor forget their opponents’ scandals, even when proven baseless. After the supposedly most liberal president in American history took office in 2008, the voters who felt left behind didn’t encourage their leaders to reach across the aisle to further progress. They revolted and formed the Tea Party, which used government gridlock as a weapon. Last year, I attended a Trump rally to see what the other side was like, and though his supporters were more polite than I expected, the mere mention of Hillary’s name inspired fury and revulsion. Sound familiar?
In my lefty Brooklyn enclave, we pride ourselves on our progressive values. We’re empathetic, tolerant, logical, and patient. But we haven’t had to listen to Donald J. Trump console the nation after a mass shooting, or give a State of the Union address. Next time you hear our “Big League” leader’s voice, you’ll have a choice to make: You can either lean into the disgust and outrage his inane patter dredges up in you, or you can mentally flee. Instead of turning down the volume, I suggest you use your exasperation as fuel, the way the Stonewall rioters did, or the people in Selma and Standing Rock.
Some of my Facebook friends are asking me to “relax” and “tone it down”—I consider that a win.
So far, my anger has inspired me to call my representatives. I’ve donated to democratic upstarts like Foster Campbell. I’ve protested in the streets and organized gatherings with activists in D.C. All of that’s important, and I encourage you to set aside time and money, if you’re able, for similar actions. More than that, though, I recommend you ask yourself what you have to offer to the cause. I’m a writer, so for me, that means putting out pieces like this one. Before the election, my work was occasionally political, but that wasn’t really my primary focus. Now it is. Once you figure out how you can best serve, I urge you to do so with zeal. Be aggressive. Be annoying. Some of my Facebook friends are asking me to “relax” and “tone it down.” I consider that a win.
That doesn’t mean I won’t live my life. I’ve committed myself to boring my closest friends and family with in-person Trump rants rather than virtual. I’ll keep writing fiction; in my bleaker moments, this feels frivolous, but making art is more urgent now than ever. Want a road map for the next four years? Here’s mine: Stay sane, strong, and yes, angry enough to survive the difficult times ahead.