Fear, hurt fuel anger
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
I keep wondering how much of our bad behavior is connected to the accumulated stress of the last 21 months.
When the current pandemic was first identified, some people looked back to the Spanish Flu of 1918 to see what might be helpful to know. A summary of what I read was that there was little information about how “the people” responded because people were so embarrassed about their behavior that they kept silent. So, I began to wonder about the part of our behavior that would embarrass us.
I wonder if we will be embarrassed that we have weaponized what gets included in history for public school students. I wonder if we will be embarrassed that we stopped being able to communicate, that we shouted epithets at each other as if that was some form of discourse. I wonder if we will be embarrassed at how many Americans died needlessly.
I wonder if we will be embarrassed by voting for someone who has lived in the county less than a year over a person who has dedicated decades to the education of our children. And I wonder if we will be embarrassed at how we have treated each other.
When I was first starting out, I remember learning that “during periods of stress, we revert to previous levels of functioning.” Well, we seem to be there. We sometimes look more like high school students in a brawl after a contentious game than parents trying to teach our children how to make their way in the world.
Lastly, fear is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling for many of us, and we will go to great lengths to avoid being in touch with it or feeling it. However, the fear remains present, beneath the surface, driving our behavior. Sometimes, our fears are much deeper than we are willing/able to say in our shared world.
I remember when I was forging a working relationship with my feelings. I was surprised, after I had the beginnings of a decent relationship with my anger, I ran into my fear, and a whole different relationship needed to be formed. My experience led me to the concept that anger is a second-level emotion, fueled by hurt and/or fear. As long as the hurt and fear remain unaddressed, there will be a supply of anger.