By Kerri Romeo
‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice, ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’
With a justice system that assumes guilt before the evidence is presented, that twists, distorts and flat out lies about evidence in favor of those in power, and finally calls for sentencing before a verdict, Alice reaches her breaking point with the nonsensical Wonderland.
Is Alice’s reaction warranted? As the nonsense in our American Wonderland continues, have you found yourself reaching a breaking point and becoming reactionary at times?
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off…Alice in Wonderland, Chapter XII
Earlier in Alice’s adventure, when she found herself in situations that provoked her emotions she either remembered the manners she had been taught and chose to be polite or there was someone there to remind her by offering a warning:
‘Keep your temper,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Is that all?’ said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could
How long have we been suppressing our feelings as a society? Are there consequences to letting go of our manners? Have we let them go too much? Or not enough? It can be scary to speak up. Alice felt the cards attack her in response to her own outburst. Have you ever hesitated to speak out for fear of the angry mob? Have you ever hesitated to speak out for fear of your own anger? When it comes to change, are we too angry or not angry enough?
Anger is viewed as a negative and toxic emotion. Yet, it is also deemed more acceptable than emotions that expose our vulnerability and are misidentified as weakness. As we argue with one another, anger can present itself as arrogance, incredulousness, judgement, and self-righteousness: The ‘I am right and you are wrong’ mentality is all too common today. An anger based in self-defense, self-preservation and fear.
But anger is also an expression of sadness, grief, frustration, invisibility, shame, disappointment, exhaustion, overwhelm, resentment. When we deny or ignore these subtleties we forget the humanity of anger. Without finding the humanity in anger it can blaze a destructive path or once again be snuffed out with the call for polite servitude…“Keep your temper.”
How can anger become transformational? We often romanticize past movements, identifying anger as the transforming agent. The abolitionist was angry. The suffragette was angry. The civil rights activist was angry. While anger draws attention, is it ultimately what creates change? Digging into rabbit holes you start to find roots that explain a lot of the patterns we still see today despite progress. Be wary of too many Alices falling back asleep and calling it awake (woke).
…and [Alice] found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.
‘Wake up, Alice dear!’ said her sister; ‘Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!’
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.