10 Apr

Righteous Indignation

Dear Friends,

Here’s a thought I’d like to share
Pema Chodron writes,

We sometimes have the experience of seeing wrong being done and there is no confusion and no bewilderment and we just say, Stop it!  No buttons have been pushed.  It’s just wrong, unaccompanied by righteous indignation.

When I feel righteous indignation, I know that it has something to do with me.”   The other day, I was leaving the hospital Wellness Center after teaching a yoga class.  It was raining cats and dogs. Because it seems the kind thing to do, and in deference to other patrons, I always park at the far end of the parking lot.  This day, I had all my gear in my backpack. My yoga mat was slung under one arm.  I had a dry-erase board that I had used in class under the other arm.  I had a bottle of water in one hand and my keys AND an umbrella that was on its last leg in the other hand. Oh, and I had a card a friend had just given me clenched between my teeth. Balancing all these items with great aplomb, I gingerly began to jog across the almost empty parking lot.  As I near my car, a woman turns to park in the space right next to my car. (Did I mention the parking lot had very few cars in it?)  I politely speed up to get out of her way. She continues to pull forward, so I speed up more – with all my stuff – in the rain.  I notice, once again, with more adamancy than before, that there are MORE than plenty of empty parking spaces right next to where I am trying to get to my car. I get to my car, and try to juggle my paraphernalia so I can open my door without dropping anything.  She continues to pull forward.  I think, “Wait just a second, lady! Can’t you see I’m hurrying, it’s raining and I’m a bit loaded down?”  (This is the clean version!)  I shoot a quick steely glance her way as I start to open my car door.  Well, I drive a ’66 Mustang whose doors are long, heavy and swing very wide.  The lady keeps inching up and I have to catch my door from swinging into her path.  In this effort, my umbrella flies up, turning inside out, and my yoga mat – my GOOD yoga mat – drops onto the wet ground. I quickly grab the door, scoop up my mat and throw it in the car, as I squeeze myself between my door and the car while fighting with the dry-erase board, backpack and now defunct umbrella.  I finally manage to get my stuff and then myself into my car and close the door.  The lady finishes pulling into the parking spot, way over toward my car’s side of the space! – (and did I mention the parking lot was almost empty!!) I sit there, huffing and puffing – and drenched.  By this time, I am thoroughly indignant! “Oh my God! Can’t you park even one spot over!?”   My thoughts explode!  In a huffy, haughty, “done-to” way, I sit for a second feeling ready to bite someone.  I roughly put my keys in the engine, turn the key and, less than gently, put my car in gear.  My car, less than gently, conks out.  I’m not sure if it was the rain, the Universe or my marvelous old car, but, suddenly, I began to laugh.  Finally, it had all become ludicrous enough to be funny. It was as if I woke up from my “all-about-me” story.  My righteous indignation was instantly recognized for the “let’s make someone else wrong so you don’t have to look at your own frustrations” mask that it was.  My mad drained out and my indignation quickly washed away. I thanked my car. I thanked the rain. I thanked the Universe for the lesson.  I glanced over at the woman next to me.  She was oblivious to me.  Her mind wasn’t set on making my morning miserable. Her mind wasn’t on me at all. I even thanked her (silently, of course). So often, we get indignant when other people behave in ways we don’t want them to, or when situations aren’t as we wish them to be.  Okay – it happens.  But is it possible to learn something when righteous indignation rears its ugly head?  Can we be so brave as to look at our own aggression?  Can we use it as a sign post that we’re in the land of “it’s all about me?”  Pema Chodron says that “blaming others never heals anything, and that if you yourself are working with nonaggression and honesty, you can change the balance of aggression in the world.” How cool it that!? ~CHANGE THE BALANCE OF AGGRESSION IN THE WORLD!  Wow!!  That’s like changing the alkalinity of the ocean, or the purity of the air. Righteous indignation, once recognized for what it is, can serve to point us toward the lessons we need to learn.  Stand on it if you will, but it is a lonely and separate place.  Step down into a place of understanding and connection.  Again, by Pema Chodron, “

Nothing ever changes in this world through hating the enemy.

Wishing you fewer things to carry when it rains




Originally Published April 10, 2011

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