I read your opinion piece on anger as a motivator for political action, with your reminder of how prescient Howard Beale (played by posthumous Academy Award best actor Peter Finch) was in the 1975 movie Network [First, get mad, then get to work, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, June 15]. We didn’t know then that the fictional broadcaster Beale (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”) would lead nearly a half century later to a genre of real TV broadcasters who fulminate on the right and the 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 January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and looting on State Street in Chicago by a minority of George Floyd protesters).
The via negativa of anger leads nowhere. The harder work, which requires personal transformation, is Martin Luther King’s focus on understanding the anger of the other without being consumed by our own anger.
King wrote about encounters with white officials during the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. “I was weighed down by a terrible sense of guilt, remembering that on two or three occasions I had allowed myself to become angry and indignant. … You must be willing to suffer the anger of the opponent, and yet not return anger. You must not become bitter. No matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm.”
Wise words as our post-Trump presidency world hurtles toward the 2024 presidential election with “Stop the Steal” election-truth-deniers now on the ballot in much of our divided country.