On Friday, I ventured to downtown Chicago for the first time since our return from Florida and was faced with the sad spectacle of deserted stores and boarded up windows, a result of recent opportunistic looting amid otherwise-peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.
On Saturday, as my husband drove us to Costco, I noticed a young black man pacing back and forth in front of the Addison Street police station with a large brick in hand. I remember thinking how angry he seemed. A moment later, he hurled the brick at the station’s front window. When it bounced off, he picked it up and threw it again. A police officer ran out of the station and the young man immediately turned around and put his hands behind his back, ready to be cuffed, which he was.
On Sunday morning news shows, I watched the horrific footage of yet another black man, Rayshard Brooks, being shot and killed by police in Atlanta. Reporters spoke in front of the charred remains of the Wendy’s where this happened, burned down by protesters.
3 days, 3 scenes of ANGER.
Fictional TV shows often depict people so enraged they throw objects and shatter glass. And the neat freak in me thinks what’s the point? What a pain to clean up the mess! Now I realize that I, a privileged white woman, haven’t been angry or desperate enough to feel like I need to throw something or break a window. I want to understand the kind of pain someone must feel to act out in this way.
Truth is, when I’m angry I go inward. I tend to seethe silently, to ruminate over long periods of time. If I need to unpack my anger, I often do so by journaling about my feelings. And when I do confront someone who is making me irate, I try to do so in a calm, productive way. On the rare occasion when I do blow my top, it’s often because I feel the other person is not listening or doesn’t get it. I feel helpless, like I’m hitting a brick wall. So I lash out with words, words that can be erratic and even nasty.
I don’t condone violence and destruction of property, under any circumstances—still, I am seeking to understand why people are driven to these last resorts. Maybe there are times when people feel they’ve got no other options. When they’ve been shut down and shut out one time too many. When desperation calls for dramatic action.
YOUR TURN: How do YOU express anger? Do you turn inward, lash out at others, suck it up, or even break something? How is that working for you?