I already referenced this article in my last post, but the title of this post is something Gloria Steinem said in an interview with The Observer when talking about women working towards flexible working hours and childcare. She was generally speaking about areas of the feminist movement that require more attention and focus.
Anger is a very interesting emotion. I feel that many social movements have been formed based on anger. And outrage. And righteous indignation. In one regard, if you take a look at the current state of the world today, how can you not become angry? Looking at the rampant injustice and inequality that characterize the institutions and processes that lie at the core of our society and the sheer number of people that suffer as a result, it’s no wonder anger begins to bubble up inside. And sadness. And a general loss of faith in the inherent nobility of human beings.
Yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder whether acting for the betterment of the world, for the equality of women and men, out of anger is really sustainable. I don’t think anyone can be in a state of anger for very long, its damaging to your mental and physical health. It sort of flairs up and then inevitably dies down. Also when you’re taking action on the basis of anger, you’re really reacting to an incident rather than actively pursuing something for its own sake. You’re angry that some injustice is being perpetrated so you are reacting to it by trying to work for change rather than being an active protagonist that works for sustainable change even without some trigger.
Also I think you would be working for the advancement of civilization from a misconception of human nature. If you’re angry it’s because you’ve been hurt, because you’re disillusioned, because you’re fed up – all manifestations of being disappointed in your fellow human beings. But how can you really work for the betterment of the world when you don’t actually trust in the capacity of individuals to be better? If you aren’t looking at others as your equal, your partner, your fellow builder of a world civilization? Because I think if you looked at people like that, then you would inevitably be looking at people with love. And this love is the place from which you would be working towards equality and justice.
I think love is often underestimated and underemphasized and deemed inappropriate for the public sphere. Its power is limited, misplaced and misrepresented.
Love is a light that guides us through darkness and what greater darkness is there than the forces of inequality and disunity that are so pervasive in our society right now? Love connects us one to another and allows us to recognize the oneness of mankind and recognize that our individual fulfillment and happiness lies in the welfare and happiness of others. And if we recognize that, the interconnection that exists between us, then we will inevitably continue on our path towards equality, undeterred and unshakable, until we reach our desired end goal.
The issue of gender equality is inherently an issue of justice and I think the following quote on justice pretty much encapsulates what I said above. “[Justice] is not obtained by righteous indignation and loud demands made from a distance on behalf of the oppressed when one is cushioned by the comforts of privileged circumstances. It is promoted, instead, by patience and long suffering, through consistent action and loving education. One endures injustice in the process of building justice.”
I should clarify that I don’t mean to say that when unjust things happen, we can’t be angry about it. But to attempt to try and create change in patterns of thought and behavior by having anger at the core of our motivation is greatly limiting. I would even say it’s debilitating. So when we work for the equality of women and men I think we need to get a lot more loving, both men and women. I think we should constantly be reflecting on our motivations for working for change. And we have to recognize that what we’re working towards, the establishment of gender equality, is a process. This by no means has to curb our intensity but it should make us more focused, less superficial and more thorough. Because on the days when you get fed up, disillusioned, tired and angry, it’s the love, for each other and for the end goal, that makes us persevere.