What Outrage Teaches

personal development Jun 29, 2020
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Outrage is a natural reaction to injustice. We're programmed by biology and culture to express disgust, anger, or frustration when experiencing a personal offense or moral injustice.

Outrage triggers our ‘fight or flight’ instinct. When confronted by an abuse, the impulse to either lash out or stand mute is a fundamental human inclination.

To deny or suppress outrage is neither sensible nor healthy. We must sit with our outrage and the outrage of others. We must listen and consider, and do so with care and compassion.

It's seductive to feel entitled to our outrage. It's easy to let outrage inspire what we do next. But are acts dictated by outrage likely to promote progress or well being?

Can acting on outrage make things truly better? Can we honor the humanity and dignity of all concerned while outrage reigns?

Yes, we are entitled to our outrage. But if we put it in control of what happens next, we must also accept that we earn the fruits of outrage.

What to do?

The truth is, I don’t know.

There are atrocities. They are inhuman and intolerable. We must listen and try harder to understand. We can, and must, be and do better.

But is outrage the best motivation for a better way forward? I wonder if outrage isn't better at pointing to the problem than it is at solving it?

I believe that justice requires us all to do the work. Yet, that effort won’t get us where we need to go if we allow outrage to decide what we do next.

We must, of course, acknowledge and learn from outrage. It's not the answer, but like every great teacher, it points to essential questions. Outrage is helping us see the change we need to make.

Based on what outrage teaches, let's endeavor together to make things better not full of outrage, but full of grace.


Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose.

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