Drawing on Past Experience To Quell Anger

Each year I choose a signature word. Acceptance is my 2021 word.  One goal I’ve set is learning to accept people who have beliefs different than mine.

I have to admit that kind of acceptance is a bit tough for me right now when it comes to people adamant about not getting vaccinated.  They make me angry because their choice could mean others will get sick and maybe even die, and their decision may ultimately prevent us from getting back to a normal life.

In a recent newspaper interview, pastor Kyle Penner suggested using friendship and positivity to convince folks who are vaccine- hesitant to change their mind. I agree. But if social media comments are any indication there are still many people who aren’t just vaccine- hesitant they are adamant their families won’t ever be vaccinated for COVID-19.  How do I accept that without getting angry? 

When my first child was born in 1979 I wasn’t able to receive extended maternity leave benefits from the school district I worked for

Luckily I have some experience to fall back on. Decades ago when I had my first child, I was angry at the school division I worked for because they didn’t have extended maternity leave benefits like other jurisdictions.  I was angry local churches didn’t recognize the leadership gifts of women and that few women held political office or higher executive positions in my area. I was angry inclusive language wasn’t standard in my local newspaper or my church constitution.  I learned from that experience being angry didn’t do much good. 

Instead, I had to try and accept there were many in my hometown who didn’t believe women were equal to men or deserving of the same opportunities and recognition. I had to try and understand people’s fear of change because I realized they were convinced women’s equality would negatively impact the way their families and communities operated. I had to try and understand that their ideas were grounded in uncompromising religious beliefs. I had to learn people didn’t want to be forced by a law to treat women equally, that it threatened particularly men’s feelings of power and importance. 

And so, instead of getting angry, and I will freely admit initially I did, I had to learn to accept people with differing views but at the same time try to be true to my own convictions in as non-confrontational and engaging a way as possible.  So, I wrote about women’s contributions, challenges and rights in my newspaper column, in other publications and in the curriculums I was asked to author.  I accepted invitations to speak in area churches about female leaders in the Bible even in churches that told me I couldn’t stand behind the pulpit because that was a spot reserved for men. I tried to be careful to always use inclusive language in my speaking, teaching and writing and I served on the teachers’ salary and benefits negotiating team engaging in a lengthy process to extend maternity leave. 

Photo by Phil Noble

I want to remember that experience when I’m angry at those who won’t accept the reality of the pandemic or the value and safety of vaccines. As people did at the start of the women’s movement many now feel their personal freedom, their religious beliefs and their ability to control societal change are being threatened.  I have to accept that and be true to my own personal convictions in as non-confrontational a way as possible. I have to continue to engage with everyone.  

At the beginning of the pandemic, I responded angrily to a social media post that refuted science. Someone called me out on my anger.  I’m glad they did. I erased my comment, apologized, and have tried to be more circumspect.  Anger can fuel change, but I think in the long run acceptance and engagement, and living your own truth as best you can, is healthiest and most effective. 

Other posts………

Why People Don’t Trust Scientists

The Tsunami and the Pandemic

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

2 Comments

Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Health

2 responses to “Drawing on Past Experience To Quell Anger

  1. Great post, MaryLou! Food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Walker

    As someone who experienced many of the same things ( discriminations, marginalization) starting when I was a young female, I wish I would have had the same wisdom I hopefully have gained through the years. I distinctly recall high school being a difficult time, especially when I asked certain questions of our male teachers. In hindsight and hopefully with wisdom, I would now ask those same questions in a much more palatable way to them in order to prevent them from feeling threatened. But I think to myself … “why must I be the one to make it acceptable to them?” And then I think of your last sentence ….

    Liked by 1 person

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