Anger isn't a socially acceptable emotion, but it's a real emotion with a lot of power. I vented to a friend after a contentious board meeting about children's education. Her mother-in-law said "Oh, don't get worked up about it. You can't change anything." I lost it and loudly told the very nice old lady "Yes, we can change things! The reason things don't change is because people like you won't do anything about it!"
I continued to serve on the board, doing my best to educate the educators about the value of arts inclusion. My anger fueled my fight for the kids who were getting ripped off in their educations. We have decades of data that clearly demonstrates that the arts improve children's performance in academics, yet the arts were erased from the curriculum.
Another woman told me we shouldn't provide free lunches to poor kids. She put her kids in religious school, and other people could do the same. If parents don't work hard enough, too bad if their children starved. I exploded. How callous can a person be to let children starve?!! It's not their fault if their parents are poor, but they'll pay the price in their mental and physical health for the rest of their lives if they grow up malnourished. That selfish woman will have to support those kids in their adult years too. (I'm pretty sure I shouted something about Jesus not approving her sanctimonious attitude too.)
I suppose the core of my anger isn't always sublime. I've been hungry. I've been angry about being hungry too. My anger is personal, but I can spread it out to encompass other hungry people. I've been victimized by selfish people, therefore selfishness opens a wound in me that never heals.
I don't want to be angry, that's why I try to keep my anger under control. I'll admit that sometimes I can be afraid of my own anger because once it's loose I'm not sure what's going to happen.
At my first job out of college I was called in front of a large panel of execs who told me to quit drawing black athletes. "We're a white area. Our readers won't relate to all these black people." I remember my first sentence. "There are a lot of black people in Painesville and Euclid." I have a dim out-of-body memory of saying a whole lot more, but I have no clue what. All I know is that the owner of the newspaper told my boss that I was never to be fired and that he personally wanted to be informed if I quit. (I guess I screwed up my chance at permanent employment by quitting not long after that.)
Anger is motivating. When things are bad enough, getting angry is the way towards change. In our personal lives, or changing the world, sometimes there's a reason to wake the dragon.
"Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change." ~ Malcolm X
"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses." ~ William Arthur Ward
"Anger is just anger. It isn't good. It isn't bad. It just is. What you do with it is what matters. It's like anything else. You can use it to build or to destroy. You just have to make the choice." ~ Jim Butcher, White Night