Anger. This subject is one of our national shame. It seems almost everyone is angry all the time now. We wear our anger on our sleeves, like badges of honor that have been rolled in shit and sparkles. I’ve often thought that I was an angry child, but as I got older, practicing martial arts gave me an excellent, healthy outlet for my anger.
Anger, especially righteous anger, can be a useful thing, I do not want to undermine that. This world needs to be changed, and change sometimes comes as a result of a great deal of anger at injustice and inequality. However, the older I get, the more I trend toward trying to cultivate kindness — kindness, which I find is lacking in the world — and kindness being something we need so much more of.
My grandfather knew this. A kind, hard-working, patient gentlemen, he blind since the age of 30. My grandfather was a stocky man, wide though not so tall, strong from a life of hard, physical labor. While he was strong and tough, he was also gentle. I have seen my grandfather cry many times. As he used to say “when my heart is full, it comes out of my eyes.” He was very social, and he had many friends, visiting and calling them on the telephone. He knew all of the neighbors in the apartment building, and was always willing to lend a hand. He was loving and caring for his wife and his family. In the 15 years of my life before he past away, only once did I see him angry.
After immigrating from the Soviet Union, we had been living in the United states for two years at this point. My parents just bought a house, and my grandparents were living with us. I was in my room, reading, when I heard the doorbell ring. My grandmother answered the door, and I heard a man’s voice, followed by my grandmother’s voice. I put the book down, and walked out of my room. My grandmother was yelling, in Russian, that she didn’t speak English, and trying to close the door on a salesman, who would not let her close the door. He was insistent and kept his hand on the door as she was trying to close him out. When I walked into the room, I saw my grandfather stand up.
He held his white stick in his fist and was shaking it in the air, his face literally dark red with rage, and he hollered at the top of his lungs. It was more like a roar. Damn! I don’t remember what he yelled, but I remember the power of his voice. Beware the wrath of a blind man. I had never heard my grandfather raise his voice before … ever. I stood still, unable to move or speak. If anyone would have told me that my grandfather was capable of this, I would not have believed them.
Stunned, the salesman backed away, and my grandmother slammed the door shut, locking all the locks.
I asked, quietly, “Duda?” (When I was little, I could not pronounce the word “dedushka,” which is “grandfather” in Russian. I bastardized it, and called him Duda forever more.)
He sat down heavily, and shook his head. The darkness had drained from his face, and he looked very pale. He also looked looked tired.
“Rivka, are you all right?” he asked, in Yiddish, of his wife. She answered that she was, and went back to the kitchen. I went back to my room.
So, yeah, even the best of us — the most kind and loving people can get angry. Anger is all right — at the right time, and for the right reasons — especially to protect your family. Save up your anger for the right time, and when called upon, let it roar.