Don’t let anger turn into wild fire

I read your op-ed on anger as a motivation for political action, with your recall of the prescient vision of Howard Beale (played by posthumous Oscar-winning best actor Peter Finch) in the Network movie of 1975 [First, get mad, then get to work, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, June 15]. Little did we know then that the fictional broadcaster Beale (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to be without it”) would lead almost half a century later to a genre of real television broadcasters who fulminate on the right and left, from Tucker Carlson on Fox News to Keith Olbermann, formerly at MSNBC.

Anger can be a motivator for political action, as you point out, but it can also be a wild fire that burns out of control. (See the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol and the looting of State Street in Chicago by a minority of George Floyd protesters).

The via negativa of anger leads nowhere. The hardest work, which requires personal transformation, is Martin Luther King’s emphasis on understanding another’s anger without being consumed by our own anger.

King wrote of encounters with white officials during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. angry and indignant. … You must be prepared to suffer the wrath of the adversary, and yet not return the wrath. You must not become bitter. No matter how emotional your opponents are, you need to be calm.

Wise words as our post-Trump Presidency world races towards the 2024 presidential election with “Stop the Steal” election truth deniers now on the ballot in much of our divided country.

Jack Crowe
Oak Park

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