The Law of the Conservation of Rage

…a masked young man, holding a knife. When he’s done speaking, he beheads the man at his side…

Throughout history, we had many public executions at the village square. I believe we never had executions that were watched by so many. My instinctive reaction was: “This is awful, how is this possible, these are human scum.” However, after a few more breaths, the question that arises in my mind is: “What is this good for?”

It is clear to me that this does not serve neither the beheading nor the beheaded person. Yet, I ask myself why do I and billions of others living in the comfort of our homes, so far from this new Islamic State, receive to our homes this horror, watched by billions? And, since I “haven’t lost it” yet, I am deluding myself thinking there is a single answer to this question. Nevertheless, I offer this, my own private response:

We are receiving this extreme and thrilling opportunity to directly observe the outworking of the “Law of Conservation of Rage.”

And perhaps even now, rage is rising in you, as you imagine I am about to offer a compassionate and spiritual psychological analysis to the massacre “ISIS” is inflicting upon the Yazidis or for the missiles that Hamas has been firing on civilian housing in Israel. Hold your rage. I am not going there at all. There are two reasons why not:

  1. Some levels of rage are beyond therapy. One should protect oneself from them, and if needed, destroy them.
  2. When there is no question – there is no answer. Most men who have chosen the “Path of Rage”, the path based on uncompromisingly fighting all those responsible for my suffering (Jews, Americans, Meat Eaters, Lefties, Gays, etc.) are absolutely sure they have chosen an original and creative way to determine their own fate. For that I use the term – “they have no questions.”

I am going in a different direction. Let me introduce you to some facts:

  1. All the movements who claimed to follow superior values and marched to their victory or demise on the path of threatening, cursing, or thousands of chopped-up corpses sustained themselves upon throngs of raging boys and young men.
  2. If there were any women present, they were an exception, as an indication of the rule.
  3. When these movements were led by mature or older men, they were serving in the father’s role and their immense power was derived from the ability to these raging boys provide a convenient, effect and continuous outlet for their rage.

The Law of the Conservation of Rage states that:

  1. Uncontained rage never extinguishes. It seeps below the surface and awaits the opportunity to re-emerge.
  2. Repressed rage cannot be destroyed. The more we try to fight / judge / educate / repress the rage the more it grows. Just like the mythical Hydras, every severed head grows two new ones in its stead. Thus, rage is maintained and strengthened.

And, because we cannot cure the rage of the Jews, Christians, Muslim and Hindu who already have chosen the Path of Rage, I think it worthwhile to devote our resources towards the raging children who have not yet given up. To those who still believe their parents can love them and contain them even when they are in rage, and expression anger and aggression. That goes especially towards the boys. These are the same boys who’s untreated rage has been the fuel that drove all of the blood-shedding enterprises in the history of the human race.

This is because the primal rage, that which a child feel towards his parents, is the one with which it is easiest to dissolve the Law of the Conservation of Rage. With many boys, it is the rage towards his father.

As parents, our consent to allow this rage enables our children to continue to see rage as a hard emotion, one that arrives, overwhelms, dominates, expresses itself and then dissolves.

The fact that I agree to continue being the “responsible adult”, even when I am personally hurt, to continue being, taking in everything, this fact allows me to clearly state my truth, at the right moment – if it is a few minutes or a few hours after the storm (e.g. “I am hurt when you yell at me like that.”). This truth is not used as an immediate, intimidating and bewildered response intended, in fact, to push away from the house all the emotions I cannot deal with.

And one more small thing.

True, I am writing as a therapist and as a teacher, and I have never been let inside the halls of the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. Yet, if I may…

Here, in this land and in these times, we, the Jews, are serving as the responsible adult. It was not the case sixty some years ago, but it is now. We are the strong ones. We are in control. And as it is true for any parent or any other responsible adult, the fact we are the strong ones does not imply we are not afraid and are not threatened. Sometimes we are also weak.

But we are the ones who can act flexibly, and according to what we choose. We are more so inclined to act that any other character in this movie. That’s the way it is.

As I mentioned before, we must act now against those who have already chosen the path of rage.

Sometimes we should act cunningly and sometimes with clear force. Yet, those men with solemn eyes who hold power are fooled by the illusion that rage can be wiped out with force, a childish illusion at that.

Because our might – just as that sword that cuts the Hydra’s heads – produces with each blow more and more raging boys that surrender completely to the illusionary complete power that the rage gives them. These raging boys would gladly take the place of those who died…again, and again…ad infinitum.

When I manage to be the “responsible adult” in my own home, I allow my own wounded child to be angry and enraged even without justifying her actions. Thus, her rage has room in our home. And thus, it does not store and accumulate inside of her, as a muddy subterraneous current looking for the smallest crack in order to burst out. (One should read “For your own Good”, by Allice Miller, concerning the conservation of rage)

Rage is an emotion. We can listen to an emotion. And that is how it finds its place in the world. I believe we (the responsible adults) can find some way to signal those millions of boys that have not yet made their choice to follow the path of rage that their rage has a point. All the atrocities attendant on rage are pointless. Only rage itself has a point.

And then, perhaps the law of conservation of rage will dissolve and the countless-head-hydra shall start to lose her hold.

Thank you for listening.

I will be glad to see you, whatever choice you make!

Shai.

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