Humans are emotional beings: however rational and thinking, people appeal to feelings. A look back into the history of humanity reveals the occasional popularity of leaders who were skilled orators, such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. They are masters of the Greek pathos, eliciting passionate approval by engaging the emotions of the crowd. In recent years, the firebrands of today—presidents Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte—have risen to fame and power.
However, I digress. Commonly cast aside as the least desirable of all emotions, primarily because of its destructive manifestations, anger is an important facet of our humanity that allows us to better engage with our world.
The concept of aggression may be extended towards other animals—the way the bull charges a matador or dogs growl at trespassers—but this is a likely case of anthropomorphism, or a false projection of human attributes to animals.
What greatly separates humans from animals is the great understanding of and care for our future. Evidence of this trait is a conclusion from the cognitive tradeoff hypothesis—short-term memory in chimpanzees is far more superior to humans, because it is necessary for their survival. Chimpanzees do not have a sense of care for their future for they only live in the present, unlike humans, whose mental faculties allow for imagination to develop a longing for self-preservation extending well beyond the moment.
Anger is caused by a variety of triggers, ranging from petty, personal reasons to reasons on a global scale. If you wrote down all the instances when you were angry, the days would not be enough. Nothing is more human than feeling hate feverishly flowing through you.
Depending on what rouses your passion, the expression of anger reveals more about yourself than whatever the focus of the aggression was. For the selfless and the caring, their anger is in reaction to the injustices, exploitation, and denial of the rights of others.
It is widely debated whether poverty is manmade. Regardless, the fight against poverty, mostly appeals to the emotional in us and plants the seed of constructive aggression to help support its cause. The World Bank’s mission reads, “Our dream is a world free of poverty.” It is, however, arguable wheter poverty can be completely eradicated. The best we have done so far is to reduce the extremes, mostly because of the complexities underlying its solution. (To be continued)
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 13 May 2019