Sunday 2 June 2013

It's OK to get angry!

Make your anger work for your cause
On March 19 2003 as I watched the horrifying images being beamed to our TV screens from Baghdad - images which signalled the launch of the cynically brutal Bush/Blair assault on the sovereign nation and people of Iraq - I shed tears of bitter, impotent, frustrated anger at the appalling crime that was being committed in my name.

I am not ashamed nor even slightly embarrassed to admit this. On the contrary, I am quietly proud of the fact that, as I approach my mid-sixties, I still retain some remnant of the capacity for justified outrage that tends to be somewhat condescendingly dismissed as the province of youth. I am rather pleased not to have succumbed totally to the world-weary cynicism that life, experience and long observation of the political scene can so readily entail. And more pleased still to have avoided falling into that feigned world-weary cynicism which some hope will be taken for sophistication.

Sometimes, it's OK to get angry.

It's OK to get angry when pathologically self-righteous, self-serving politicians embark on insane neo-imperialist military adventures that are as unjustifiable and pointless as they are murderous.

It's also OK to get angry when confronted with evidence of growing inequality driven by unthinking adherence to a failed and outmoded ideology that demands we pander to the powerful by penalising and stigmatising the powerless.

It's OK to get angry when you witness the mindlessly callous injustices that flow from socially corrosive policies such as the ill-thought and utterly repellent bedroom tax.

It's OK to get angry when faced with the devastating consequences for people and communities of an economic system geared entirely to serving the bloated centre of the British state at whatever cost to the deprived periphery.

It's OK to get angry at the politicians who, having been entrusted with the task of standing between us and those who would exploit us, instead are to be found standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them in serial acts of blatant, unabashed betrayal.

It's OK to get angry at the way the institutions of democracy whose role is to aid informed decision-making are instead being turned to the task of demonising dissenting voices that dare to challenge the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.

It's OK to get angry at all these things and more. Let no-one tell you that your anger is inappropriate. In the face of injustice, perfidy and corruption anger is always appropriate. But it must be appropriately used.

There is power in your anger. We must not fritter that power on the of kind puerile condemnation and denigration of individuals and groups that only serves the purposes of those who would divide us the better to control us. We cannot allow our anger to be diffuse and directionless. Most of all, we must not let that anger be so misdirected as to fuel hatred of others, intolerance of dissent and contempt for the principles and processes of democracy.

Anger on its own is a self-defeating thing. Nelson Mandela - a man with more cause than most to be angry - tells us that,
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Anger serves a purpose only when it is harnessed to action. Our aim must be to ensure that our anger is harnessed to a constructive purpose. Throughout history, every socially progressive movement has had two parents: anger at that which is perceived to be wrong; and the dream of a world where such wrongs are righted.

If, like me, you are angered by what is being done in the name of the British state; and if, like me, you have a dream of a better, fairer, more usefully prosperous and socially just Scotland, let us apply the energy of that anger firstly to the task of restoring our nation's rightful constitutional status in order that we may then set about the task of realising our dream.

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