4: Rage

“Divine rage is fierce, disciplined, and visionary….The aim of divine rage is not vengeance but to reorder the world. It is precise and purposeful, like the focused fury projected into the world from the forehead of the Goddess. It points us to the humanity of even those who we were fighting….Perhaps our task as human beings is to find safe containers for our raw reactionary rage–and then choose to harness that energy in a way that creates a new world for all of us.”

“It is a rhythm: Step away to rage, return to listen, and reimagine the solutions together. It becomes a kind of dance–to release raw rage in a safe container, in order to send divine rage into the world, like focused fury. The way of the warrior-sage is not only loving-kindness but loving-revolution, or revolutionary love.”

Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger, Chapter 4

Understanding Rage

A Practice of Love for Opponents

To rage is to express our body’s most fiery energy, it is to tap into our body’s power to protect ourselves and others. To rage is to honor and tend to our own pain so that trauma does not hijack our ability to see another’s humanity. When we listen deeply to our rage against injustice, we gain the information and energy we need to transform the world.

  1. Where is rage inside your body right now? If it is difficult for you to access, remember all the things that you are grieving about and fighting for. Don’t be afraid of your rage. Don’t be ashamed. Just notice it. 
  2. Stay with the sensations of your rage. You might notice tension, clenching, springing, heat. Notice the shape of your rage in your body, wherever it’s living — in your heart, your belly, your throat, your legs. 
  3. What does your rage want to do? How does it want to move your body? Invite simple movement. Maybe you are springing to your feet. Maybe you start to cry, or scream, or yell. Maybe you are starting to shake or spin or stomp. Let the energy move through you.
  4. What safe containers do you need to process this rage? Writing, dancing, running, therapies, rituals of all kinds. Safe containers are ways to process this rage in a way that does not harm others or yourself. Do you need a friend or professional to help you?
  5. What information does your rage carry? What is your rage telling you about what is important to you?
  6. How do you want to harness this energy in the world? What creative nonviolent action are you ready to take? Who can take this action with you?
  1. In what ways is rage a practice of revolutionary love? 
  2. Why is rage a necessary practice in loving opponents?
  3. What does rage, particularly the rage of women of color, teach us about justice?
  4. How can rage be a generative force for justice?
  • Honor your rage. The practice is not to suppress our rage, or let it explode; but to express our rage in safe containers–emotional spaces that are safe enough to unleash our body’s impulses without shame and without harming ourselves or others.
  • Define and develop your safe container for rage. This may be weeping, meditation, journaling, screaming into a pillow, throwing things on the ground, creating art, music, dance, therapies, rituals or ceremonies. This may be a “planned tantrum” when you lie on your back, gently move your head left and right, pound the floor with your hands, and release whatever sounds emerge. What safe containers do you already have? What safe containers do you wish to explore? What do you need now? You may need one large session with a professional or skilled friend. And/or may need to access your safe containers daily.
  • Reflect in your wisdom journal: What information does my rage carry? What is it telling me? How do I want to release and/or harness this energy? What does divine rage look like for me? 
  • Be an accomplice. Resist the urge to disconnect when witnessing the rage of communities of color and others who experience injustice. Instead, practice “hearing beyond what we are able to hear” (Judith Butler): to be present to the pain of injustice, to recognize our own complicity and responsibilities in the systems that cause harm, and to help others understand this as well.
  • Read about the transformative power of rage, especially the rage of Black women like Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Brittney Cooper, and others. Recognize and name the roles of white supremacy that have suppressed the rage of people of color, throughout history and in present time.
  • Remember you are in the process of transformation. Harnessing our rage is powerful and challenging work.  Go slowly and be gentle.

What is the role of rage in revolutionary love?

Why must we process our rage in safe containers?