That is angry Garibaldi back there, drawing his sword to fight the monsters of Italy.
“I learned from you how anger can keep a person burning forever...I learned from you how choosing anger in life makes you end up lonely and misunderstood and from that i hope I can learn to forgive and listen to people and choose love instead.”
Thus wrote a former friend in what was hopefully her last letter to me. I share it with my readers because it made me think once again about anger. God save me from people who cannot be angry, cannot stand to see someone angry, who think that anger is an unnatural, even a psychotic, condition. People who, in my opinion, live in fear of anger most of all. It just “isn’t done,” it "isn't nice," and it certainly isn’t “politically correct;” is it now?
No thanks, I’ll keep my anger. I’ll leave it to the well-adjusted capitalist yuppie generation to enjoy the fruits of capitalist exploitation and cultural triviality; who somehow manage to be pleasant and smiley all of the time (until you offend one personally.)
I never was a smiler. Frankly, I didn’t see a lot to smile about, and smiling usually hurt my face. It seemed dishonest to present a feeling I didn’t feel. It was like telling a transparent lie that anyone could detect. I prefer the belly laugh to the polite chuckle; I prefer Tragedy to Comedy—though I can laugh my ass off if something is really funny. I prefer being angry about the horrible, (absolutely inexcusable!) conditions for most of the world’s peoples, living under oppressive, heartless, mindless, and ruthless governments, and corporations. The poverty, sickness, brutality, ignorance, heartlessness, cruelty, and stupidity of the human world, to be exact but inadequate, makes me want to throw something.
Some people just can’t get angry about things. Oh well. I can’t change the world, can’t change other people; all I can change is myself; and anger is one thing I don’t intend to change. No thanks. It keeps me warm, even hot. I can't make them feel what I feel; but they can't make me stop feeling what I feel with patronizing lectures either.
Five will get you ten that those cab drivers down there are pissed-off. They paid a small fortune to a bunch of gangsters, and walked a tightrope over a lake of fire for the right to compete with 17,000 other taxi drivers, in order to feed themselves and pay extravagant rent to some capitalist bastard with a pump for a heart for some dump in a filthy, criminal neighborhood.
Enjoy your parties.
I re-connected with Veterans for Peace tonight, after an absence from the group for about six years. Well, I joined and paid the $25 dues for two years, but never attended a meeting then, because I was for three years dealing with a little thing called esophageal cancer, and didn’t have time or energy for activism. Radiation can sap your energy, and is a great killer of anger, too. It seems I have to be nuked to relax my anger.
The Manhattan group of older veterans, most of them Vietnam vets, welcomed me with handshakes and smiles, and I sat comfortably through the meeting, knowing I was among friends, who, like myself—who never had to fight one—hate war, and especially the heartless wars of the United States of America. You see, we have a “thing” about our country, that we all took oaths to “protect and defend.” All of us are, well, sort of angry. Even the pleasant, mild ones, and especially the depressed ones: I can feel their anger beneath their civilized exteriors; can feel it because I know it. I feel it too.
Of course, I feel that our government is ultimately making war upon the American people, because none of these stupid wars is in our interest, but against it. And the high-up hoity-toity rich bastards who are really making it? They don't have a country; they have a bank. They sell this country out in their sleep.
When the business of the meeting was done—with only one passionate comment by me, which got them considering my trick of washing the American flag to attract attention and debate—they showed a 30-minute film: Re-thinking Afghanistan. It was a fine film by an independent filmmaker, whose name I didn’t get—but will—and it showed lucidly what I knew already, because I have read much about the latest barbarism of my government in that ancient land, that has never been conquered.
I seem to remember that even Alexander the Great—who fled from the hornet’s nest of India—avoided the fierce tribes people of Afghanistan. He just didn’t want to get into it with them. He was the wisest of the many invaders who encountered the Pashtun people. He didn't have to get out; he just never went in.
Then, in the last couple of centuries, the Afghanistan people kicked the Pure-D shit out of the British, and the Russians, and now they are engaged in kicking our butts too; though to read the cowardly American Media, nothing like that is really happening, or can ever happen.
Here are some people who don't feel a bit of anger. Oops, sorry. They're made of stone. Maybe they are white with anger over the mis-treatment of homosexuals. Oh yeah, then there was the Stonewall Riots, which happened right behind this scene at the corner building. I wasn't there, but I think the rioters were angry. And now gays have actual legal rights in most, but not all, places. All because somebody got pissed off at police brutality, and refused to take it anymore.
Most Americans just don’t get it yet—but they will sooner or later, after more millions have been burned or blown to pieces beneath our bombs; or unjustly imprisoned and tortured because some pretentious asshole in Washington called them “terrorists;” or maybe after more extravagant, unaffordable war has wrecked our economy--again.
I’m sure I wrote about it. somewhere back there in this 100-piece blog, in an article named, The War is Wrong. Well, if you read it, you know I’ve been harping about this stupid war for awhile. It’s my thing. It seems I was saying (and saying it better!) a year ago what some mainstream journalists are only now saying; as if they just discovered Afghanistan and Pakistan, and snapped to the obvious fact that we can't win it. It's really too expensive folks. It costs nearly a million dollars per soldier to send them there; and it takes one soldier per 40 people in the population to maintain control. You do the math. In WW II, it was $50,000 per soldier.
And I’m not even getting paid for this.
This guy is probably too tired from sleeping on park benches to be angry. But I bet when he woke up it wasn't long before something pissed him off.
The film had this effect on me: It really made me mad. Actually, it made me angry! I was shaking after seeing scenes of the wounded and hearing the cries, the angry cries, of their kin.
Of course, I was already pissed-off. I admit it; I’m pissed off a lot. Sure there are personal reasons too, some that go way back and seem to have nothing to do with the present: being bullied through most of my primary grades by cowardly sons of sons-of-bitches for no apparent reason; jailed by my mother for talking back; jailed by my older sister for possession of marijuana and lsd; boiling and freezing in a solitary confinement cell for 18 months during the “prime of my life;” (that really pissed me off;) and a basket of stupid mistakes following that, which lowered my self-esteem, destroyed my earning ability, cast me into a seemingly-permanent poverty, the resulting depression, and loss of my family that turned me into a drunk, bottling my creative potential.
Here's a jerk whose abrupt and abusive manner burned my ass. After a week of considering a lawsuit, I finally forgave him, but he's still a jerk.
Naturally, I’ve read some of the “experts,” who claim that antiwar activists of the Sixties were only “acting out” their anger at parents and other authorities on the convenient target of a stupid war-making government. I admit it. I was “acting out” too. For all the right reasons, at least; and, as the great author,, David Harris, said in Our War: What We Did To Vietnam, and What Vietnam Did To Us:
"We were also right."
David, once-married to Joan Baez and more famous for that probably than his antiwar activities, (more than a thousand demonstrations and two years in federal prison for refusing the Draft,) has become what can only be called a great historian; has written two books about Iran that are well-worth the reading. He teaches history at his alma mater, Stanford University. Yes, he was a privileged youth attending a prestigious university, magna cum laude, who joined the poor draftees in his hometown of San Jose, registered for the Draft with them, then mailed the card back to the government with a refusal to serve.
Yes, yes, I know; "Get over it. Suck it up, deal with it, and move on.”
You may notice that I have.
As the Beatles said: “It’s all right now.”
As all right as it is likely to get.
Just looking at Moloch burns my ass sometimes. But I sometimes enjoy the combat. I've always had a feeling, reading it, that Allen Ginsberg was angry, when he wrote Howl.
Everyone who can, should see the aforementioned film. It was one of the best I’ve seen on the subject of Afghanistan from the victims' viewpoint, and the footage of the burned villagers, whose only crime was being there, and the women whose faces were scarred painfully by acid, and the children destroyed or crippled for life, was heartbreaking—and, for me, angering.
I do not for a moment think that I am a victim of “blind, unreasoning anger.” Mine isn’t blind or unreasoning, because if it were I would be in prison, a mental institution, or dead. I see my own anger as reasonable and oft-times creative. Sometimes I think of it as my “fuel.” Of course, I am an imperfect human just like you, with character defects and personality flaws, and an actual medical condition that I won’t go into; unfortunately, people, individuals, sometimes are the targets of my anger; for which I always pay dearly, incidentally; and usually learn a lesson from, often too-late.
Because, you see, I could not give a moment to the fight against war and injustice if I were not pissed-off about it. I'd really rather go fishing on a beach and read a book waiting for the pole to jerk. I'd rather sit and watch the television burn.
I see a lot of people who sympathize with the homeless, but seldom contribute a dime to one, and have never joined any organized effort to help them, or pressure our stupid governments on all levels to do the right thing: like public baths; clean and safe shelters; permanent housing; proper education, psychological and job counseling and medical treatment, and an adequate income.
Look at this old woman sleeping in a rainstorm on 33rd Street in Manhattan for God's sake! That doesn't piss you off? What the hell is wrong with you?
Not to mention educating the public about punishing poverty. In the United States, many people actually consider poverty a crime, and the poor, by implication, as criminals; actually a “criminal class.” Even “good people” in moments of “anger” can refer to them as “scum,” or as “a piece of shit,” starkly revealing what they really think and feel, and it is “politically incorrect,” and even shameful, but their true feelings nevertheless.
Denying our feelings is nothing new. I used to do it too, but I gave it up when my heart nearly cracked like an icicle. Then I found that many of my feelings were beautiful, truly beautiful, tender and sweet, loving and kind; but there were plenty of ugly ones too. I suppressed them, put them away, reasoned with them, scorned and raged against them, but still they they pop up now and then (read Doing the Right Thing, an earlier post)so as to remind me of my dreadful human imperfections, the result of thousands of years of human devolution, because of war and poverty, and people insensitively picnicking beneath the hanging, rotting bodies of others, who were executed for...stealing bread.
The truth is that Americans, especially, live in such fear every day, and often-unrecognized fear, that they are scared breathless of poverty, and of the poor.
It’s almost as if the homeless are being punished for being homeless. As the dumbass Ronald Reagan said, “They want to be homeless.” Oh, you don’t remember that? Well, some people have a rather selective memory; and many agree with the worst President the United States has ever had.
Reagan in his fancy tomb still pisses me off. I’m so glad he’s dead, and can hardly wait until Henry Kissinger joins him in hell—if there is one. But I won’t go into it. Well yes I will briefly. If you know me—and few do—you know why: destruction of the fine California education system; a life of anti-labor maliciousness; a turncoat against other artists and liberals during the McCarthy Inquisition; the murderous wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador; and more. Much more. Every time I saw the pretentious son-of-a-bitch on television, I thought he was doing a Howdy Doody imitation. As for Kissinger the Great Ass-Kisser, he can't get off an airplane in Brazil, Portugal, or Belgium, for he will be arrested and tried for the war crimes he committed against Chile and foreign nationals murdered there during the CIA coup against President Salvador Allende, who was shot dead in the presidential palace. If they don't get him, maybe the Devil will. In case you didn't know, there is no Statute of Limitations on War Crimes: Crimes Against Humanity; Crimes Against the Peace, and Crimes Against the Rules of War.
Yes, “punished,” I said. The same way that the people—the Muslims—of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are being punished for being, well, for being there.
I hope you can “choose love” too babe. I used to love somebody, or thought I did, but it was a one-way deal. I won’t apologize for my anger. And forgiving these torturing, murdering robots isn’t on my agenda.
I think mine is mostly a constructive anger. Sure, sometimes it's destructive, but oh well; I'm human I make mistakes, and sorry about that. Some people, well, they never make mistakes, never have a moment of self-doubt; they wake up with their hair parted.
Watching Muhammed Ali taught me that anger is permissible but hate is not. My anger is not infused with hate. I can't think of anyone outside of Hitler and his worshippers that I'm capable of hating...and they are more robotic than human.
Postscript: Incidentally, all that stuff back in the blog—starting with Butterfly— about “love?” Well it was mostly bullshit. Don’t bother with it. It was only a guy who was in love with the idea of love. A silly, lonely old man, who hasn't had sex in 10 years, who suddenly thought something magical was happening to him; a real fantasy. I don’t think I ever felt much real love, mine or anyone else’s. I’m not sure I even want to. To me, “Love is just a four-letter word.” (Dylan) Every time I've ever reached for it, it only brought me pain.
My experience has been that most humans are “cowards and traitors,” just as Jean-Paul Sartre described us. I don't love most of them. I do love the idea of them though. I love the idea of them living in a peaceful and prosperous civilization with liberty and justice for all; but I know I will never see it. And that pisses me off too.
"Lonely and misunderstood?"
Oh well. I put a lot of it in this bag.