Good “Angry” People

Aug 07

My good friend, Frederick Zappone, just started a big discussion as the result of his INSPIRED LIVING blog talk radio show. His topic was Got ANGER?  Find out how to make anger your most powerful ally and your best friend.

You can’t imagine the resistance his topic brought up from people still stuck in their heads about anger, certain that anger was somehow bad.

I can only assume that those people have lived very comfortable lives. Have they ever been jailed for a crime they didn’t commit? Raped? Tortured? Had their homes ransacked and gifts from their loved ones stolen? Been evicted because their landlord could get more money from someone else? Lived in a society where disputes are resolved by bribes? Been forced to exist in a concentration camp? Been relegated to the back of a bus or forced to drink from a different water fountain because of their skin color? Been an innocent victim of a nuclear bomb? If not, they simply can’t understand anger and outrage.

The issue is not whether there is anger and outrage. There is. The issue is what we do with it when we experience it.

Do we stuff it and pretend these evils never happened? Do we remain silent, tacitly supporting this kind of inhuman conduct and allowing it to continue?

I, for one, choose to speak out against it, bring it to the light of day, make it transparent for the whole world to see, and take action to stop it whenever I can. It is simply not acceptable conduct in a co-creative, collaborative world.

Feeling anger and taking appropriate action is not the antithesis of love and understanding. It is love and understanding at the very deepest levels of our souls.

I can still love the person who engages in this kind of despicable conduct and understand that he, too, may have been abused, without standing silent in the face of his dysfunctional conduct.

Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

Does Evil Really Exist?

Jul 01

Are we asking the wrong question when we ask, “Does evil really exist?”

What if we change the question to: “What does the word “evil” mean to me in this particular experiential context?”

Envision a mother, bound and gagged, forced to watch a brutal gang rape of her beautiful ten-year old daughter. The mother’s and daughter’s physical and emotional pain has to be nothing short of excruciating.

If I were in the shoes of either, it would be easy to label the rapists “cruel”, “brutal”, “uncaring”, and even “evil”. From the rapists’ perspective, they are probably simply showing off their sexual prowess and engaging in male camaraderie. But at what cost to the mother and daughter?

If you’ve never spoken with a woman who has been brutally raped, you have no idea what shame, guilt and anguish she experiences or the years it takes her to heal. If she’s fortunate, her shame, guilt and anguish will eventually turn to rage and outrage, and yes, this rage and outrage may initially be directed at the rapists. Temporarily, she may need to label these men “evil” in order to find the courage to step into her own passion, power and purpose. What will that passion, power and purpose be? To protect herself and all other women on this planet from this type of life-shattering experience and stand firm in her own core respect for and appreciation of herself and all other women.