It might seen strange to most people putting the word ‘anger’ under the love section of a painting or book. If you find this strange it is because you do not understand the nature of anger, its purpose or its various manifestations. We are traditionally taught that it is wrong to feel angry or to take action, when we feel the emotion of anger. We have been conditioned that anger is not ‘ladylike’ or that if you are a man you must be tough and violent when you feel angry. We are taught to ‘bottle’ up our anger and not talk about it. But we all have it and all deal with it in a damaging way at some points in our lives. Anger in itself is not negative. What can be negative is the way we react when we feel anger. In order to avoid the destructive aspect of anger and turn it into something loving and positive – we must express, not repress. Anger, as I explained before is a fear of injustice and a Fight, Flight, Freeze reaction by the body in order to protect us from danger. When we feel that we are being threatened in some way, it is right that we stand up for what we believe in. We must however, do this in a way which is not violent and does not threaten others. We can and should protest against injustice. The best form of protest is voiced in a courageous way, after the initial physical reaction in our body has subsided. This generally takes 10 seconds (hence the phrase ‘Count to ten’. Sometimes it might take longer and we might have to leave the situation for a while to recover. Once we have calmed down we must think deeply about what it is that has made us angry and why. Once we know the answer to this we can think about ways that we can communicate a response, which will not threaten our opponent. This requires a lot of skill and is something which is not generally taught to us by our parents or teachers, thus, we must make an effort ourselves to learn how to communicate in an assertive and effective way. We must remember that if our response is good, the other person’s ego might feel threatened and that we might not always get the response we want. We must be loving and forgiving when this occurs and not take this negative response personally. A certain amount of emotional detachment is required in these cases. If we are able to understand that most people bring their entire personal history of emotional baggage with them (including their ‘bad day’), when they enter into a dispute, then it is easy to detach ourselves from the out pouring of emotion, which is often aimed at us in arguments. When we are able to leave this ‘baggage’ behind, we can then focus on the present disagreement with much more clarity. A good phrase I like to use in conflict situations is ‘How can we resolve this?’ This is a good way of taking away blame focussed aggression and moving the discussion out of the past and into the future. When our anger is really intense, because someone in the discussion is not listening to another’s needs, it might be better to find an alternative form of communication. There are many peaceful options available, including many creative activities such as writing, music, art, film making or simply marching together, in order to show how strongly we feel about injustices. Pressure groups are also a great way to fight injustice and become involved in politics without becoming part of a political party.
In my painting I have shown the Stuckists protesting peacefully against the elitist art establishment, outside the Tate. I have also featured another female protester holding a board saying ‘I want a better world for my children’. I think that the protest placards Are especially relevant to our times and peaceful protests are taking place all around the world. Occasionally, violence has erupted at these protests, because of people from both sides of the disputes being unable to control their own emotions, but we must not forget that these incidents are reported by the media to favour the powers who control the media. We must not feel frightened to voice our opinions in a non threatening way. If we do not do this we will become victims. I will leave you with a few quotes, to contemplate, from my favourite non –violent freedom fighters:
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.