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Some stereotypes are grossly unfair and not very flattering. That said, when the shoe fits, wear it, and as an Italian American, I fit the stereotype of being emotional (I know) and passionate (I think). Cest la vie.
But I realized today that in that gamut of emotions there is one I regret.
I wish I hadn’t wasted so much emotional energy when I was younger in being angry.
Some disclaimers. Occasionally anger serves a purpose. If you channel it into a productive pursuit, it motivates you to right a wrong, defend the defenseless ... or try to find a cure for cancer.
I am not talking about those noble efforts.
Nor am I making a strictly altruistic assessment, that anger is “bad” and we should stop it.
Candidly, while there may be some merit in that, that’s not even it.
It’s just I realize basically nothing good of any substance has ever come in my life from being angry. Literally nothing.
Stop and think about that. All those times I was good and ticked off, what good came of it? Absolutely nothing.
Billy Joel sings of the angry young man with his “fist in the air and his head in the sand.” How true and, it seems to me, never more than now. Everybody is furious about something. Everybody. And there never has been a more conducive time to express that anger.
We have a plethora of social media, often allowing anonymity; a culture that glorifies any abhorrent behavior.
I watched promos during sporting events this weekend for network shows. They all are basically sound bites of atrocious behavior, often couched in anger. That’s the premise of the show, folks. All of them with some small variations ... same church, different pews.
Why? What is the point? Especially when I suggest nothing good is coming from it.
I offer myself as Exhibit A in that regard.
I recently ran into a woman with whom I had professional interaction some years back, and who, candidly, infuriated me with her decisions then. Years have passed and I am sure I still wouldn’t agree with much of what she did.
But I realize she was trying her best, just like me, and I did nothing to help the process by being so irate.
The baseball great Ty Cobb, by most objective accounts, was an immensely unpleasant man and that is putting it tactfully. I don’t profess otherwise. But this Hall of Fame player whose achievements still are unequaled, had one regret on his deathbed.
“I wish I had made more friends,” he said.
He was the original angry young man. And angry old man. And angry-in-the-middle man.
I don’t want it anymore. We delude ourselves that there is something almost majestic in being angry, some “noble statement” it makes.
In hindsight, I’m just not buying it.
Emotions? Good God, yes. Passion? As long as I am breathing.
But I am trading in the anger model. It’s been recalled, and not a moment too soon.
Bob Valvano is a University of Louisville and ESPN sportscaster. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.