You are supposed to get more placid, easy going, calmer as you get older but I think I might be bucking the trend.
People have always described me as a calm, easy going person- particularly, it has to be said, those who do not know me well. Perhaps the reality was that for much of my younger years I was scared of my shadow and far too keen on showing a calm competent exterior to cover over the insecurities within. Simply put, I wanted to please people, not to draw attention.
But at the age of 46, I find myself in a place where life has done most of its becoming, some of its being and may even be looking into its declining. Life, for the most part, has been very kind to me. I am loved (despite it all) and I have learnt how to love in return. I have what I need plus a little bit that I do not. I live in a rich country that has known internal peace and stability for my whole life.
So what makes me angry? I can not pretend towards being totally absent from grumpy old man syndrome so this might well be a factor. However, the anger in me is pushed by a conviction that this world we live in has contained within it some terrible disappointments. Is this really as good as it gets? Is there not more than this, better than this?
Growing up I was told that God would sort everything out- probably soon (a second coming of Jesus) but certainly ultimately. The second coming has been delayed it seems and if we do live in the ‘end times’ then God is taking his own sweet time to get it all over with. And in the meantime there are all those peddling a kind of religion that sees itself as a great big hoover for the righteous and the rest can just go to hell. And it makes me angry.
I grew into a society that despite the looming possibility of nuclear war still thought that all of the world’s problems could be solved by technology. But then came global warming and we seem powerless to change our greedy needy addiction to consumption even though it is killing us. Technology seems to be a means of giving separation from the problems; they look different when viewed through a screen. And it makes me angry.
But what makes me angriest of all at the moment is that despite a thousand years of history, we in the UK seem to becoming ever more feudal. The rich barons gallop by in their Ferrari’s and sneer at the great unwashed. And to convince themselves of their rightful place of election they demonise, denegrate and stereotype. They make poor-porn like the unbelievable shite that is Benefits Street. And whilst the poor lose out in a thousand cuts, the rich get richer. They get more stuff. And it makes me ANGRY.
I heard a story today of someone who had been without benefits for three months. The person had been working previously, but mental health problems had made it increasingly difficult and they lost their job. A shattered self confidence was made worse after a ATOS assessment regarded the person as fit for work. The end result was that they stopped leaving the house. The machinery of unemployment benefit was impossible. It was hard enough to breathe. Hard enough to think. Every day becomes a competition between distraction and overwhelming dread. Death seems a valid option.
Add into this the current nastiness in the media, and in the mouths of government ministers, about scroungers, wasters, smokers, gamblers, and the self esteem of people already near rock bottom falls further. Anyone who has seen this kind of defeat close up, or experienced it for themselves, knows these words to be what they are- pure propaganda used to justify a social policy geared towards wealth creation for those who already have wealth.
And it makes me incandescent.
Lest I give the impression that I am some kind of Jesus, turning over tables of injustice in the white heat of righteous indignation, I also get angry at computers that do not work, at my wife when she does not deserve it and my kids when they do.