Friday, February 09, 2007

We are a Gentle, Angry People

Last Sunday, during our UU services, we sang a hymn I had never heard of before entitled, "We are a Gentle, Angry People". The words are written by Holly Near and are as follows:

We are a gentle, angry people

We are a gentle angry people, X 2
and we are singing, singing for our lives

We are a justice seeking people, X 2
and we are singing, singing for our lives

We are young and old together, X 2
and we are singing, singing for our lives

We are a land of many colors, X 2
and we are singing, singing for our lives

We are gay and straight together X 2
And we are singing, singing for our lives

We are a gentle, loving people X 2
And we are singing, singing for our lives

I have thought a lot about this hymn during this week. There are some Mormons, even some liberal NOM's, that seem to look negatively on those in the DAMU that post while angry. I think a lot about anger, forebearance, and offense-taking. I can understand that people sometimes lose control of themselves while angry and let the emotion take control. I also have observed people who are consumed with anger for extensive amounts of time, that end up becoming nasty in all of their interactions and tax their bodies with stress. But I believe that there are appropriate times to get angry and that one can get angry without anger getting the best of them.

Anger can be an adaptive response in the face of injustice and unfair treatment. It protects us from allowing people to walk all over us or others and be taken advantage of. We should be angry when people that we trust are deceptive. We should be angry when homosexuals are victims of hate and intolerance. We should be angry when women are relegated as second class citizens. We should be motivated to act for justice and equality and honesty. Martin Luther King, Jr, showed us how to work for these things without letting the anger eat us alive and without lashing out in unproductive violence and provocation. So, let us be a gentle and angry people until those in power quit mistreating those without.


Anonymous said...

Don't Get Me Started!!!

(just kidding)

Seriously, the Mormon Church uses its teachings about Anger as an integral part of their thought control.

Don't get angry at your leaders, they say.

Those "anti-mormons" are just angry people who have emotional problems, they say.

Every sane psychological and moral thinker knows that Anger is a vital and Good force, when used properly.

It is Grossly Immoral to see injustice in the world and NOT be Angry at those who have abused their power.

It is highly Moral to use that anger as energy to fight againt injustice.

It is, obviously, NOT moral to exploit and dominate others because of Anger. That is so evident as to be trivial.

But Anger at injustice while practicing loving kindness towards our fellow humans (with the possible exceptions of Hitler and Bush)
is not only acceptable, it it Vital.

Anonymous said...

I was searching for the song lyrics to "we are a gentle angry people" heard on a re-run of six feet under. I came across both your comments. I have so much to say but for now just "Thank You" is all I can express. There really are sane people out there after all.

A gentle but angry gay father in Maryland.

Hüffenhardt said...

Thank you for your comments. I look forward to chatting with you again.

Sue Cannon, PhD, RN said...

I heard Holly Near say that she wrote the words to this song on the way to the protest rally that was quickly forming the afternoon and evening Mayor Moscone was shot to death in San Francisco. They were angry but gentle people, justly.

Hüffenhardt said...

Sue Cannon,

Thank you for your comments.

Carla said...

I first heard this hymn in an episode of Six Feet Under over two years ago. It has been on my mind ever since. For years I have been struggling with a crisis of faith.

It is difficult in today's world to find much of worth in the people and events that seem to populate our lives. So much anger, intolerance, negativity, greed, close-mindedness, so much hate and unwillingness to see outside the circle of self.

I feel so distant from God. I feel bereft of any meaningful guidance in my life outside of what I can manage to distill on my own purely based upon what I feel is simple common, human decency. There is no sense of community or the greater good in today's world. There seems to be only selfishness and everybody thinking of what they can get out of anything or anybody they encounter solely to benefit themselves.

There is no trust. There is no faith. Only greed and the self. Selfishness and gain, profit and pleasure.

This hymn comes to mind for me whenever I start feeling down. It doesn't seem inherently happy on the surface, but I believe there is a message of hope. And inspiration in these words to be found encouraging me not to give up entirely.

Would that I could move to an isolated mountain top in Tibet. I feel so out of place in this world and life. I am not of this world, but am merely in it.

lee woo said...

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. See the link below for more info.