Transforming Anger into Gratitude
It’s been a crazy couple of days. It’s Tuesday, the first Tuesday since the election. A few minutes ago, riding down the BART escalator, a woman blamed me for missing her train and called me an “Asian-ass bitch”. On Friday, a drunk man tried to grab me on my walk home. What is this world coming to? Are there no safe places left?
My immediate reaction is one of fear, of wanting to escape. And this fear quickly transforms into anger. Anger so bright that it blinds my compassion and starts to separate “me” from “them”. Anger that drives default mental patterns, that argues that “they” are ignorant or prejudiced or wrong. Anger that tries to justify ignoring others completely.
The challenge is to breathe through the anger, to see others clearly: as individuals with their own real fears, fears that fuel their own anger. As people deserving of the same love and understanding I want for myself. When I’m in a safe place, I practice the conscious act of offering a prayer of compassion to those that would do me harm.
May you be happy and safe and free from all harm. May you know how loved you are.
It’s the same prayer I offer to myself in times of fear. In that moment, my anger leaves my body, and I find myself in tears for this new person. What have you experienced that has motivated your hatred today? How can I help to ease your suffering?
From this empathy, I begin to acknowledge my many privileges: my American citizenship, feeling financially secure, my loving parents, calling San Francisco home. Nourishing my spirit at dharma talks and in yoga class. Being healthy in mind and body. Having a support system of family and friends. In recognizing my privilege, I find a deep sense of gratitude for this abundance.
I write this not to condone acts of intolerance or violence; that will never be okay. Minority communities are under attack, and conscious action is necessary to protect myself and people that I care about. With that said, I offer this note as a reminder to myself to transform my own anger into love. For it is this love that has the power to create change.