The funny thing about rage is that it can be empowering.
I was running through a very picturesque neighborhood yesterday morning and I found myself fantasizing about brutal violence.
The violence in my mind was directed at the 4 high schoolers who raped a teenager in Canada. As if that wasn't enough these demons put pictures of her on Facebook. To make matters worse the school turned their backs on this girl, shaming the victim instead of the perpetrators.
I let my imagination put me into a confrontation with the four boys. This confrontation was a surprise attack during lunch so that everyone could see. After the breaking of ribs, knee caps and other non-lethal destruction I would scream at the other high schoolers, " look at your demons now. LOOK YOU COWARDS."
These images are bouncing through my mind and as I'm running through a grove of blossoming trees, I find my pace quicken. The power I imagined myself having felt good.
What made me recognize this fantasy as a slippery slope was the fact that it felt good. I let my fantasies subside and refocused my awareness on the beauty around me.
That same night while reading a book called Aftermath by Vietnam war veteran Fred Downs, I came across one of his experiences of a raging imagination.
Let me set the stage. On January 10, 1968, LT. Downs stepped on a Bouncing Betty near Chu Lai, Vietnam. That landmine took his left arm and almost got his legs. After days of unimaginable pain and suffering, L.T. Downs was transferred to the Philippines. During his treatment there, he was examined by Filipino doctors who showed no consideration for the pain they were causing Downs during their examination. Downs describes the pain, but more than the pain he describes the powerlessness to do anything about it. He ends the retelling of the experience with Rage.
Thrashing back-and-forth moaning from the pain and degradation of helplessly lying in fields of my own blood crusted dressings the two Philippine doctors finally walked out, leaving me bloody, exhausted, and much nearer death.
Tortured into an insane rage by suffering and defilement I envision myself firing an M-60 machine gun into their bodies.
I shot out of orbit to destroy them. There was a difference, though. For the first time, I turned on myself. After destroying the doctors, I crashed into myself and exploded into fragments toward infinity. It was as if I experienced the crash from two perspectives myself as a destroyer missile and myself as a soldier. As I turned for a final dive I saw the hospital walls down in my room, down to my body lying in the bed. As a missile I had to increase my speed to the ultimate in the dive so that the crash would be intensified. Speed and noise were power, and power was needed for the destruction I wished. It would take a lot of power to kill me. As I lay in my bed watching myself approach an awesome rate of speed I rose up from my bed with a guttural snarl and steeled myself to fight against myself.
When we collided there was a volcanic detonation of sound, colossal boiling clouds, and a sea of dazzling sparkling lights, scattering into pieces.
Everything was surrounded with, immersed in, and throbbing with waves of burning, excruciating pain.
Aftermath, pg 72
While our experiences with rage came from different circumstances both experiences hold the common need for feeling power in the face of betrayal. Mine the betrayal of a young girl by her classmates and her school, Downs being betrayed by those who are supposed to be helping him survive.
Why am I talking about this? Betrayal takes an infinite number of forms. Maybe we feel betrayed by circumstance...."life is not supposed to be this way, this wasn't supposed to happen to me." Whatever the case, rage can be a valuable tool in the short term but it is not sustaining.
Further into Aftermath, Downs finds new ways to feel alive and empowered.........
I found myself coming back to the moment and enjoying the beauty of Spring unfolding around me.
This post was guided by the 57th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
Armor Down has a website. Check it out.
If you like the AD Facebook page and I'll email you the PDF of a book called "Mindfulness in Plain English".
Lisa Wimberger's meditations:
Grounding Your Armor
Riding the Sun
Thrive as a civilian.