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Rage and Despair


We will all likely experience rage and despair at some time in our lives. I am writing this now for my American friends.



Rage and despair tend to be total experiences.

Rage is more than anger. It wants the object of the rage to be totally gone, obliterated, not around any more.

Despair is more than sadness. It sees no hope, not anywhere.

Which means that rage and despair can be very hard to deal with. They are the whole of our world for a time.


Little Bits

But there is a whole world outside our despair and rage. There is a time before and very likely there will be a time after.

And perhaps the easiest way to know this is to focus on something small.

I can’t change the whole world, but: I can join an organisation, help a friend, make my lifestyle a little more sustainable.



Rage and despair aren’t wrong. They are important information that we see something very wrong. And wanting to do something about this is very good. And we need to be intelligent about what we do, so that we don’t make things worse but better.

It is good to listen to our rage and despair. Until we know what it is we want to do. It may well be radical – and the first step on the radical path may seem very small to an outside observer. And it will be easier and more enjoyable if you have others who understand your concern and even are willing to support what you are doing. Friends on the journey make the travelling easier. So, consider sharing your concerns and ideas with those you think are likely to listen to you.


To Do

1, Find a way to listen to your rage and despair.

Write in a journal. Express it through some kind of art. Talk to others who will be able to hear. Gradually you will find clarity. And then you can act with some sense of where you are heading and what you want to achieve.


2. Consider talking to others, joining with them and learning more.


3. Find one or more things you can do regularly in response to your rage and despair.

It may be a spiritual practise. (Meditate on or pray about the beauty you can see around you and how it is being destroyed.)

Write a letter each day, or once a week. Sign online petitions.

Talk to one person each day about what you care about and why.

Go to a regular meeting of an organisation working on what you care about.


There are difficult times ahead. We will need to develop habits, connections and lifestyles that will help us channel our rage and despair to create a better world.



Generosity and hospitality are quite counter-cultural at the moment.

There is much about defending what is ours and not much about giving freely of what we have. In Australia, where I live, the sheer awfulness of the treatment of asylum seekers is difficult to comprehend.

In Australia the current government wishes to sell off collective (government owned) assets to private corporates.

Competition is still regarded as the basis of social relations by some. Instead of something to improve sporting (and in modest, some other) skills.

And yet we enjoy and celebrate giving freely and generously, especially at this time of year. And, though we don’t pay a lot of attention to it, in many ways throughout the year.

  • We freely give attention to others and listen to them.
  • Most of us, most of them, give small acts of courtesy without thinking about it.
  • We value harmony in our close relationships, and are tired of petty squabbling by politicians.
  • Many of us do long for politicians to have the integrity and courage to act to save the planet, even if at some cost to our lifestyles.

The spirit of Christmas is alive, in our close relationships most obviously. And would revolutionise our world if applied more widely.

I invite you to find a quiet moment, perhaps once Christmas is over, and contemplate what it would mean to live out a little more of the subversive spirit of Christmas.