How Can I Stop Being Angry in the Current Political Situation in the USA?

Nov 9, 2020


Dear Ven. Robina,

I am reaching out as I am finding it difficult to not get spun around by rage and sadness that the Republican party are not doing their part to uphold democracy in the US. I feel a fury in me that they continue to fan the flames of delusion on so many levels. I know these emotions are not helpful to me or others. But they have the tightest grip on me right now that I have ever known. 

Any words of wisdom would be most appreciated to calm this internal storm.
Thank you for all your ongoing care and refuge.

Yes, R, I understand.

The key thing about anger — it’s so simple, and you said it! — is that it’s totally useless, totally impotent.

But that doesn’t mean we simply throw the baby out with the bathwater, or become passive and don’t care. No. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t see what the problem is. It’s good to see problems in the world, as Martin Luther King said – but then you say, “what I can I do to help?” That’s action, that’s compassion.

If there is something you can do to change things right now, then, for sure, do it! But you know there isn’t. Being angry is bashing our heads against a brick wall.

So what to do about it internally? The thing to do is look deeper, beneath the anger. What drives it? What’s there? Attachment! Attachment to what? At the deepest level, we’ve all got primordial attachment to getting what we want, what we think is right. That’s the real problem, R. So try to work with that.

In other words, anger is the response when attachment doesn’t get what it wants. That’s the driving force. It’s there every second. And the second it is thwarted, the second it doesn’t get what it wants, it has a panic attack. It’s happening all the time, it can be the smallest thing, but we don’t usually pay attention until it’s something big.

Another way to put it is we need to learn to be very brave.

Things might be really terrible in life — it’s true, no one’s denying it. But the stark reality we have to be brave to face is that if we can’t change that thing, we have no choice but to learn to accept that it’s there, learn to navigate it, learn to stay steady in the face of it.

And this does not mean being passive. Not at all! I look at the Dalai Lama — all these years in the face of the terrible, terrible things that have happened to his beloved people, he stays steady, stable, clear.

Then, like His Holiness, when we stay steady, we don’t go crazy, and we are capable of seeing things clearly, and if there is something we can do, we will do it. He hasn’t stopped doing things to help for the past 60 years — politically, socially, spiritually, diplomatically, scientifically. He literally never gives up!

Of course, it’s the hardest thing in the world: this is what giving up attachment means.

So, start small, start in your own household, with your next next-door neighbors, with friends.

And a crucial thing is — stop talking about it! That only makes it all much bigger. Leave it there. This sounds so simple, but it’s profound. It really helps.

So, honey, one step at a time!

What do you think?

Much love,

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