Is it time to get angry? In an age where our future is at risk, perhaps anger can make a difference.

I’m not easy to anger. To be honest it’s an emotion that scares me; a powerful Genie that I try not to let out of its bottle in case I can’t control it. The flip side of avoiding and suppressing anger is a high degree of patience – let’s face it there’s little choice in the matter if anger is a no go zone. I used to be quite proud of my ability to keep a cool head – ‘Patience is a virtue’ so they say. But now I’m not so sure!

Perhaps you’ve heard me tell the story I call ‘The snake among the roses’; a true recollection of an experience I had at the age of about 2 years old when I was approached by a snake. The experience of communion with another living entity fundamentally shaped the person I have become and the natural world continues to be central to my own being. However in spite of my feelings about the natural world, I have never taken a confrontational position when faced with people who abuse it. To be clear I have questioned, I have commented and I have informed, but never confronted; again because of the desire to avoid anger.

Two weeks ago I was in York and witnessed an Extinction Rebellion protest, a sit-in at HSBC and then Barclays regarding their investment practices. In that moment a wall came crashing down inside me, the Genie was out of its bottle and I got angry. I cannot tell you why witnessing this protest affected me in the way that it did, but this was not the red-faced brutal and vicious type of anger I’d always hidden from. No, this was something new, a different face of anger that is measured, calculating, revealing of cold hard truths and demanding of action!

I am angry at myself for having stayed silent.
I am angry that I had begun to believe there was nothing I could do.
I am angry that the media attention is on climate change and plastics when the issues go much deeper.
I am angry that the warning voices have been around for decades but nobody wanted to listen.
I am angry about the excuses.

I’m very aware that a pitfall of anger is unproductive ranting so let me return to the point. The time for quiet and polite acceptance of the global rape of our planet is over. Strong words I know but I don't apologise for using them. I am facing up to the reality of where we are and if that means getting angry, then so be it! I’m not throwing stones either because I myself am standing in the metaphorical glass house. I am however admitting my own failings on this matter as much as trying to encourage others to do the same. In spite of my own environmental awareness there is a great deal more I could and should be doing and this extends to my role as a storyteller.

For too long we’ve been spoon fed stories that reinforce the importance of economic prosperity over environmental stability, whilst ignoring the fact that without a stable environment the economy is irrelevant! To my great surprise, anger is now providing the fuel for a renewed vision within my storytelling practice. I am setting myself a task to vastly expand my story repertoire – to tell tales at every opportunity that encourage a shift in the narrative around environmental issues. I see a population deceived into inaction with stories that reinforce a perception that the scale of the problem is so vast that individual action won’t make a difference. This is where storytelling can help. This is where stories can unite, empower, educate and encourage.

Do you recognise your own role in the unfolding crisis and can you decide how to make a meaningful change? If you can do nothing else, then I encourage you to read or listen to this story by Jean Giono entitled – The man who planted trees.

You can access a version to read here

Or if you’d rather sit back and listen to the story, there’s also a good YouTube video of the story 

Finally, please feel free to let me know of any stories you think would be fitting in a new storytelling repertoire on this subject.

Thanks for reading.