Thursday, May 11, 2006

Anger? Do I "write angry"?

People sometimes tell me that at times I "write angry," at least in tone or feeling. This is how some people feel as they read my words.

I can honestly say that I'm seldom angry when I write.

I've been angry at times, of course.

But, I have to tell you the posts I write when I'm angry never make it to the blog. My angry stuff is like a therapeutic journal to rid my soul of its burden so I can move on.

Still, the reports get back to me occasionally that I concern people because of my anger.

I appreciate the feedback.

It causes me to really look inside, to reflect on what is really going on in my head and heart.

It is painful to watch good people, especially children suffer due to want, need and bias. I try hard to keep things in perspective, to face my limitations, to recognize that life is real and hard and at times unchanging.

If I am angry, it is due to this intractable pain and the needless despair that so often accompanies it.

Often really nice people just can't understand me. I guess that is why I put this blog up in the first place. Like everyone else, I want people to look, to see and to at least get a notion about the world that I encounter every day.

It is interesting that the people I work with on a daily basis are also the people who bring me the reports that others are saying I am angry. Invariably these friends and associates tell me, as they report, just how surprised they are when others call me out for anger. They just don't see me as an angry guy.

Focus, passion, insanity, dogged persistence, incurable idealism, naivete--yep, they can see all that.

But, anger?

I'm just not normally an angry guy.

Maybe I need to go back and read all that I've written here (whoa! there is a horrid thought!).

Maybe I do "write angry."

If so, I need to figure out what my anger means.


steve said...

Perhaps saying you are angry is a transposition of the reader's guilt feelings in response to what you write.

"I feel like someone should be angry wiht me, therefore, Larry is angry"

By the way, I like the picture: Is that you and Jim discussing the budget for next year?

Jason Coriell said...

For what its worth...
I sense from your writing passion, not anger. Sometimes the two concepts have a similar look and feel but they derive from far different sources. Your passion is contagious! Please carry on.

owldog said...

Larry, I agree with Steve and Jason, that describing the unfair justice in your neighborhood and wanting to do something about it may come off as anger to some of the readers who might feel "why get so worked up about those people/children that are not getting a fair chance to succeed and meet their needs, we are okay we work for a living" They do not realize that is a gift you have received from God to bring attention to the problem and hopefully help the problem. People think I am angry when I talk about the foster system but I am passionate about the children in the system and I guess that can come off as being angry, that is okay.

champion idealist said...

Every so often, I preface (my admittedly radical) ideas by saying "I know this is radical, but what if...." Once, someone responded by saying, "That's not radical, that's inclusive."

I say, you're not angry, you're outraged. Angry brings to mind teen angst, spite, and violent tendencies. I don't think you're angry. But outrage... outrage brings to mind a keen sense of social justice, perhaps an anger on behalf of the people who aren't vocal enough to be heard as angry.

The real question is, why isn't everyone else outraged?

Anonymous said...

I respect you Larry but I just don't understand all this talk about injustice. We live in the greatest country in the world with more opportunity than any other country. You might say I grew up poor, on top of a mountain in Arkansas with no indoor plumbing until late teenage years. Yet my brother, with all this "poverty" is a scientist who speaks all over the world. I didn't do so badly myself, as also my sister. Of course there are circumstances that
require help from private agencies or government, but all in all there are so many opportunities in this great land. I think people need to change their mindset and perhaps their lifestyle. Of course you know more about the subject than I, but this is my opinion. Also, what went wrong with Linden Johnson's "war on poverty" of the sixties? Are there less poor people now?

KentF said...

Coming from someone who used to listen to talk radio far too much - I think some folks listen to Rush Limbaugh too much. Just like the person before me -- the radical right would suggest we ought to have this poverty deal whipped by now shouldn't we? Both extremes use labels far too often, and I think the "label" of anger is nothing more than that - and a widlly off-target label at that for Larry. I don't sense any anger.

Larry James said...

Anonymous, thanks for your ideas.

I am glad things worked out for you. For millions it is not the case.

As to Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty," yes, in about two years the poverty rate dropped by 19%. The actions of his administration helped create a black middle class and educate a generation. The Vietnam war interrupted what was working very well. That is no opinion. There is irrefutable statistical evidence to support this reality.

The issues are complex, but the indicators are clear. This nation is the greatest on earth. Opportunity is present, but the playing field is far from level.

Jeremy Gregg said...


The "War on Poverty" actually did work. In 1965, the year after it was launched, there was a 4-5% drop in poverty rates.

By contrast, there was a 3% increase from 2003 to 2004. For the source on that, please visit:

The problem was that Vietnam curtailed its impact, and the lingering effects of that debacle then went into the Cold War... until Reagan came along and invented the myth of the "Welfare Queen" to slay the concept forever.

As NPR said about the War on Poverty:
"Making poverty a national concern set in motion a series of bills and acts, creating programs such as Head Start, food stamps, work study, Medicare and Medicaid, which still exist today. The programs initiated under Johnson brought about real results, reducing rates of poverty and improved living standards for America's poor."

Larry addressed this somewhat here:

He also lays out a strong vision for how we can better shape public policy to lift our country out of poverty.

happytheman said...

You know I'm not reading the comments so this might be said. But injustice is something to be angry about, keeping the people from God is something to be angry about, and in a town where weekly there is people throwing their money away. I believe there is always a place for righteous anger.

Momentary Lapse of Reason said...

I sympathize with anonymous's struggle with "all this talk about injustice." I used to feel much the same way. After all, I was born in 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act passed. And I did not personally know anyone who was (very deeply) racist. And everyone had the sam opportunity to go to the same public schools I did. And . . .

But I eventually realized all of this assumes alot. Current poverty is not the only issue. Children who are neglected due to their parents' drug problems or mental illness don't have a choice about who gave them birth and where they grow up. And their parents are on drugs at least in part because they grew up in neighborhoods where drug use was common and where whole blocks had nary a person with a regular job which paid a "living wage", or any hope of getting one. And the parents' parents did grow up in an overtly, legally racist society in which they had few options. And their ancestors only 4-5 generations back may have been slaves or peasants toiling 60 hours a week who received no education.

"I think people need to change their mindset and perhaps their lifestyle." I agree wholeheartedly! The question is just how to get people to a place where they can make that change. If you grew up in a house where no one taught (by example) the value of work, you have to be shown. If you grew up in a house where children were neglected, you need help and encouragement not to do the same things to your kids. If no one in your neighbrohood seemed to value education, chances are you need help opening your eyes to its value or your kids will not be raised to think it important.

Yes, people need to change their ways. But we need to be compassionate with them as they reach the point where they can do so, and as they begin that process. In other words, we need to be there, ready to help.

I think this applies regardless of your religious views, but those of us who follow Christ really have no wiggle room about showing such compassion. It was so much of what he was about.

And, yes, this is also a matter of justice. The playing field is far from level for the child born with crack in its system raised by a half-literate grandmother in a decrepit neighbrohood who wasn't shown much real love herself as a child and doesn't show much now. Helping such a child is a matter of justice, as well as compassion.

Larry James said...

Thanks for all of the discussion here.

The fact is some forms of injustice have nothing whatsoever to do with the people involved. Rather, the system works against people in certain places, classes or subgroups.

True enough, some children arrive with the deck stacked against them because of parents' failure, etc.

But there are other factors of a systemic nature driven by public policy issue.

Michael Evans said...

Anger is one of the most powerful emotions we have, and emotion given to us by God. Just as we know something is very wrong when we are hungry, we know something is very wrong when we are angry. With anger we break through the "BE NICE" rule of middleclass society. The BE NICE rule means -know your place and stay in it. When our anger commands us to lift up the stinking injustice of this world. It's just not nice to mention injustice in polite circles. More anger please Larry.