“When you are right, you have no need to be angry

When you are wrong you have no right to be angry”

                                            –    Mahatma Gandhi

It is apt to remember this Gandhi quote on his birthday when the entire nation recalls his enduring legacy. Anger today seems to be the overwhelming emotion dominating public discourse and private interaction pouring out in abundance from our homes, legislative bodies, streets and television screens. Anger is clouding our judgement and making stormy outbursts the norm rather than the   deviant. Anger and intolerance called out as enemies of correct understanding by the Mahatma are  emotions that characterize a regressive society and unwelcome in a nation poised to lead the world. Anger related to the fight, flight or freeze response of the sympathetic nervous system, prepares humans to fight but it doesn’t have to lead to punches as we have noticed in recent times. It can have positive connotations in motivating communities to combat injustice by changing laws or enforcing new behavioural norms where much rests on the manner in which it is channelized.

The level of rage and violence across society in a land traversed by the Buddha and the Mahatma gives us a chill in the spine. Road rage and crowds of people watching street fights like free entertainment, irate relatives beating up doctors and nurses blaming them for the death of loved ones, honour killings and domestic violence are all symptoms of an angry, intolerant people who find the most devious methods to vent their anger. The hatred and venom spewed on social media is another extreme where words are like poisonous barbs not sparing even the dead about whom the etiquette of saying good things is normally followed. Abuse of every kind and the “I alone am right” stance that people seem to revel in threaten to undo our image as a peaceful and nonviolent nation. From mob lynching to killing elephants and stray dogs and the most heinous crimes against women, the symptoms of the malaise of frustration and anger are growing. Sometimes animals seem to have surpassed humans in showing compassion. Two videos where women are being beaten up severely by powerful people deemed to be protectors of law wherein their domestic pet dogs are barking and running around helplessly that have surfaced online clearly outline this fact.

Angry television panelists and anchors banging on tables, abusing one another and pointing fingers are only part of the story.  Everybody from an infant to a geriatric seems to be angry and blaming the other person. “Don’t provoke me” say the perpetrators blaming the victims for their outbursts. From films based on the “angry young man” frustrated with the system we have moved to a larger canvass where we have an “angry people’. It’s time we look at methods of overcoming anger and replacing flared nostrils, reddened eyes, knotted eyebrows and menacing finger shaking with pleasantness. Smiles over scowls and anger management would be a fitting tribute to the Mahatma.