I have the great pleasure of knowing a number of really bright, really passionate, really amazing people. These people inspire me, and provide me with constant support, feedback and hope.
It has been interesting to discuss trauma and crisis with these friends, and to ruminate on what it means to move forward amidst pain and suffering. I have been struggling with the dichotomy of anger and love lately. I think there is a great need for both in life — and in any transformation of injustice into justice.
I can respect another person’s anger. It is an important emotion. Without it we would never feel the drive to change things, the sense of outrage at oppression. But I also fear it. I fear it because it can be protracted and perverted into hatred. And hatred, well hatred has no place in my heart anymore.
I could be mad at people who have hurt me — those who have threatened or enacted violence against me throughout my life (in various forms). I could choose to swallow the bitter despair that such violence evoked in me, allow it to fester into hatred and re-purpose it against someone else. But what would that accomplish? It would only inculcate someone else into the cycle of harm.
It has taken a long, long, long time to come around to my current ruminations on love. Someone suggested that I read Viktor Frankl, and immediately these words moved me deeply:
“‘The salvation of man is through love and in love.’ – Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (2006:36)
His work is so timely, given the current state of things in Canada and throughout many parts of the world. There is great injustice. There is great suffering. There is undeniable reason for anger, for outrage, for despair. However, I think we must — unquestioningly — turn our eyes to Viktor Frankl’s work. His experience of the Holocaust, and the realization amidst the most horrific suffering imaginable that love is the salvation of man — that is a lesson we need to hold close to our hearts right now. These lessons are rooted in his experience, but they resonate with so many narratives.
I can’t imagine the suffering that some people have experienced throughout the world. I can’t imagine the physical and emotional and spiritual scars that kind of trauma can leave. But I do believe that we have to honour the strength of the people who have experienced trauma and resolve not to let that pain recirculate to another generation. The greatest revenge, if I can use that word, is to heal. And to build healthy, strong communities that are resilient and powerful.
In order to achieve this we must couple our anger with love. This is the only way to transform the most unutterable injustice into lasting peace.