daniel and i had just finished watching argo (i really liked it!) and we proceeded to have an overly-simplistic, probably-factually-incorrect, offensive-to-the-outside-observer debate about iranian-US relations and how the US had done some really, really terrible things to iran which is why they were hanging americans in the town square when they caught them. it inevitably led to daniel asking me:
“well, given everything that the US has done, shouldn’t iran hate the US?”
i was sort of flustered from an already heated conversation, but i had a very tough time answering this question. it wasn’t until i was thinking about this question afterward in a more neutral mood when i realized that this question was especially difficult because it is two separate questions conflated in one:
1) should=justified. is iran justified to hate the US?
iran should hate the US because the US has done really shitty things to them. the US led a coup to overthrow the prime minister because the new iranian prime minister was destabilizing the US oil supply. the new head of state was the worst and ruined the country. (roughly.) (can i put a big asterisk on this entire blog entry that i am not an IR expert and it merely the metaphor.)
2) should=in a perfect world. in a perfect world, would iran hate the US?
my answer was that iran shouldn’t hate the US because anger (and many other negative emotions) are generally (with many notable exceptions) totally counterproductive.
i feel very similarly about the gentrification SF debate. are people justified to feel anger that market forces are increasing rent and forcing them to move out of the city? without a doubt. it’s really, really terrible. but “should” they feel angry? hmm, slashing google bus shuttle tires is not the most productive thing. why aren’t the lobbying to reform housing codes? imagine if they put all that manpower into legislative change. i can only imagine how much more they could accomplish than a $1 fee for each tech shuttle stop in the city.
1. I’m outrageously good in bed; you’ll end up losing your job because you’re late for work all the time. You will start walking like John Wayne.
2. I’m a really good cook; you’ll end up packing on the pounds and developing diabetes because of all the delicious desserts I serve up.
3. I’m hilarious company; your mascara will constantly be running down your face; you’ll develop an incontinence problem.
4. Your mum will love me; this will cause a family rift as your father becomes jealous, the arguments will escalate, and your parents will end up on ‘Jerry Springer’ throwing chairs.
5. All your girlfriends will be jealous too; see point 4.
6. All your gay friends will be jealous; see point 4.
7. I’m not at all loquacious; but I have been known to be a sesquipedalian.
8. Pets love me; your dog/cat will quickly develop such strong feelings for me that when we sit across the room from each other and both call her name, she will come to me, not you. Heartbreak and bitterness will ensue, you’ll become a cynical, twisted wreck. Your self esteem will plummet.
9. I can’t count.
very funny and clever. but you keep reading down the list, and it’s actually really interesting. is it a bad thing that they are emotionally distant/immature/a loser/with weird habits? yeah, without a doubt, they declare! but they are also unequivocally stubborn and refuse to change because they are JUSTIFIED to act that way, because of genetics or life experiences. #bornthisway
this is generally how i frame things when i get angry, usually at daniel. how i feel the heat from a hundred suns and want to beat down on daniel. how i just want to yell at him and i just replay all the things that happened and all the things he did wrong and why he’s a terrible person.
but also how i should just get over it and how it’s not a big deal and how daniel and i are actually a great match and i’m wearing down on something great.
both interpretations of “should” (justified vs. ideal behavior) are often conflated and i think it’s important to separate the two. both questions should be evaluated simultaneously.
if i talk about how i SHOULD feel really angry because of all the idiot things that daniel did, it really ignores the fact that that anger can be totally destructive and ruin things. see: me and wendy.
if someone tells me how i SHOULDN”T feel angry because it’s totally pointless and a “useless emotion” as jeff says, it totally ignores the importance of working through emotions and how emotions are an incredibly powerful force that can’t be changed with the snap of a finger and unresolved emotions can be even more destructive than a positive veneer.
(this leads to an incredibly frustrating whirlwind of emotions and overthinking that wages a huge civil war inside me.)