By Clif Wright – People with Mental Health Labels Should Feel Rage, Part 1 of 2

Where Is the Rage?

Where is the Rage?

I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I do mean what I’m about to say.  It’s meant to be real talk — RAW — about rage.  Sometimes, the only appropriate response to oppression is rage.

Movements, civil disobedience, and especially non-violent direct action are not for the faint-hearted, can’t-we-all-just-get-along crowd.

This is for the bravest and brightest among us, folks who are ready to give EVERYTHING, put everything on the line, put their asses, freedom, and lives on the line to challenge the forces that would, and indeed are, destroying them, their families and all they love.

Rage, discontent, and a hunger for justice, respect and survival have nothing to do with being nice, or being “positive,” or positive communication strategies, reasoned dialogues, or meeting with Massa, asking for his favors.

Rage Changes the World

Martin Luther King, with four small children, put it all on the line

Martin Luther King, with four small children, put it all on the line

For those who have invoked the Mahatma and Martin, I suggest you go back and read their writngs, and the history of the movements they led.  They felt rage, were ROYALLY PISSED OFF, about the way they and their people were treated.

African Americans and Indians were ready to fight, die and kill for their freedom. They were angry and desperate, and they chose the war path. They took their fight and rage to the oppressors, and refused to give way or give in.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Ghandi:

“When the lives of your family and people are threatened, you must act. Non-violently; if you can, but if not. you must act.  Anything less would be an act of cowardice.”

What is all this happy talk about rage being ineffective, anger being negative? What a total denial of history.  America wouldn’t exist if the revolutionaries followed the “Please, Massa” strategy.

Without justified, well-channeled, organized rage, black men and women would still be second-class citizens, and AIDS might still be the scourge it was not so long ago. More important, how is being nice, the “please, Massa, invite me to the table, please fund my grant” BS working for you?

Being Nice Ain’t Working

For the consumers you care about, in your state, and across the nation, IT AIN’T WORKING, according to the numbers. Take almost any statistical measure, talk to anyone. Consumers are struggling and dying.

Some are thriving, but that’s not the general truth.  The truth is 25 years shorter average life spans, poverty, poor medical care, unemployment, incarceration, abuse, stigmatization, isolation, veterans returning from war with URGENT mental health needs, waiting 50, 60, 70, 80 days to see a doctor for the first time.

More important, the most radical, heartless policy agenda in the history of American social services is on the table as we speak.

Seriously, how is all the happy crap working for you? Hell if you ain’t pissed off royally, I’d say some part you is dead. Some very important part of your humanity is anesthetized.  Where is your rage?

Sometimes Rage Is Good

When someone has his foot on your neck, or is destroying your life, rage is the exact, appropriate response — not a whimper, but a scream! People get confused, thinking rage is bigotry and hatred.

It is the exact opposite. It is hope and love expressed as rage, and the spiritual evolution of their culture. The Greeks said it best: ” HOPE HAS TWO BEAUTIFUL SISTERS: ANGER AND ACTION.”

Footnote: I said essentially the same thing in a meeting of consumer advocates recently, and they wanted to throw me out.  Neither they nor their Massa liked my message.

You can bet none of them have the chutzpah to act up either.  They’ve been meeting for 13 yrs and done squat.  They like it like that:  no courage, no risk required.

(Editor’s note: Chutzpah is a Yiddish word with no exact English equivalent.  It takes nerve to murder your parents; chutzpah to ask the court for mercy because you’re an orphan.)

Here’s what I know for sure: when you truly care about someone — when you love them — you put your ass on the line for them. Anything less is just talking smack.

Is rage is ever appropriate or helpful?

Cliff Wright

Wordworks Blog Author: Clif Wright

Clif Wright was one of the founding board members of a worldwide campaign to end Hunger. He and many other campaigners have helped to cut the number of deaths by starvation worldwide in half over the last 20 years, even as the global population has grown. Clif is a board member of Wellness Wordworks and a very passionate support of mental health entrepreneurship.

2 comments to By Clif Wright – People with Mental Health Labels Should Feel Rage, Part 1 of 2

  • Malene

    It Is Right Here. I am pissed, righteously, furiously, indignantly pissed.

    I am looking for a constructive outlet for the rage, because I don’t think taking a bomb to the hospital will do any good.

    • Malene, the blog I’m writing for next week, probably July 5, will give you my answer, and might give you ideas for finding a constructive outlet for your rage that works for you. I hope you find it, for the sake of the movement and your own serenity and emotional well-being. — Ken Braiterman