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.”

“Lorde asks us to tend to the rage within us as a symphony….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. 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?
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.