A few years ago, back in what seems another lifetime, I had a co-worker who was driving me crazy. He was incredibly insecure and often sought to make himself look good at others' expense. He was also lazy and very willing to let others slog away at the grunt work, grabbing the tasks for himself that would gain recognition from the leadership of our organization.
I started to obsess about the unfairness of this. I wanted something to be done. And I began to vent my spleen to anyone who would listen. Even when relaxing after an intense project, I found myself returning to this subject like a dog worrying a bone.
One friend in particular would listen sympathetically but he also seemed kind of amused. And he would, after listening patiently, gently try and get me to move on. He was very supportive and encouraging but he hinted that perhaps I should stop putting so much energy into being angry.
I remember thinking at the time that this guy just didn't understand the seriousness of the situation.
I have a different perspective now.
This particular friend is a cancer survivor and perhaps that's what led him to understand what I now see more clearly. It is much healthier (and better in the long run) to focus on what really matters and to save our anger for situations when we can actually hope to create real change.
I have recently become somewhat reluctantly involved (and only peripherally) in a situation where it seems that a group of people, for whom I have great respect, have lost sight of a common goal. They have become bogged down in a morass of pettiness and are choosing to express some legitimate frustrations in ways that are destructive. And some individuals are being badly hurt in the process.
I can't help thinking that life is way too short for this.
I think, in situations like this it is crucial that keep ourselves focused on what's important. I always try and ask myself what my goals are and whether my actions will move me towards it. And if I am acting out of anger or frustration then I am likely only contributing to the problem, not to solving it.
Anger and confrontation certainly have their place but they are not ends in and of themselves. We need to ask, yet again, what organization we want to build, be honest about the things that aren't working and take concrete measures to fix those things.
And we need to treat one another with a little more compassion.