Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)
One of the most common expressions of violence is anger. When my wife or sister is attacked, I say I am righteously angry; when my country is attacked, my ideas, my principles, my way of life, I am righteously angry[…] So, when we are talking about anger, which is a part of violence, do we look at anger in terms of righteous and unrighteous anger, according to our own inclinations and environmental drive, or do we see only anger? Is there righteous anger ever? Or is there only anger?
The moment you protect your family, your country, a bit of colored rag called a flag, a belief, an idea, a dogma, that very protection indicates anger. So can you look at anger without any explanation or justification, without saying, "I must protect my goods," or "I was right to be angry," or "How stupid of me to be angry?" Can you look at anger as if it were something by itself?
[…] It is very difficult to look at anger dispassionately because it is a part of me, but that is what I am trying to do. Here I am, a violent human being, whether I am black, brown, white or purple. I am not concerned with whether I have inherited this violence or whether society has produced it in me; all I am concerned with is whether it is at all possible to be free from it. To be free from violence means everything to me. It is destroying me and destroying the world. I feel responsible -- it isn't just a lot of words -- and I say to myself, "I can do something only if I am beyond anger myself, beyond violence, beyond nationality." But to be beyond violence I cannot suppress it, I cannot deny it…I have to look at it, I have to study it, I must become very intimate with it and I cannot become intimate with it if I condemn it or justify it.
Excerpted from "Freedom from the Known" by J. Krishnamurti.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion of looking at anger as just anger without justifying or condemning it? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to look at your anger without condemning or justifying it? What helps you move beyond a sociological analysis of anger and toward freeing yourself from it?