Angry People Change The World

Anger is generally considered to be a negative human attribute. But I’ve come to see that—not only is it a positive attribute—it makes the world better.

There’s a misconception that if you’re calm and “in control” of your emotions, that you are to be admired and commended. And if you’re more reserved then you’re more rational, and therefore make the world a kindler, gentler place.

Professors, lawyers, CEO’s and politicians have become increasingly calm and reserved over the years, rarely ever raising their voices (except for effect). If one of them becomes angry, they’re labeled as irrational and people become suspicious. (Remember what happened to Howard Dean?) However, when people maintain constant composure, we assume they are more stable and trustworthy. 

What a ridiculous assumption. 

A few weeks ago, I got passionate and very animated about something and my wife asked, “Why are you getting angry? Relax.” I thought to myself, what has happened to us? Why are we so averse to expressing a little anger?

I remember watching a TV documentary and they showed some really old footage of Theodore Roosevelt giving a presidential speech. He was animated and emphatic. He waved his fist around. I thought, “Wow, presidents were different back then!” I can’t imagine our current president filled with such conviction and becoming that emotional.

It seems we’ve become so obsessed with physical demeanor and verbal delivery, we often overlook the content. We’ve become more concerned with appearances than inner motives. Why?

I believe we’ve overreacted to our less gentle parents and grandparents—who were sometimes violent disciplinarians—by throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Many of us vowed to behave differently, even to the extent that some parents now refuse to discipline their children in any way whatsoever. So the pendulum has swung completely to the other side. 

The truth is, anger and violence are two totally different things. Anger is an emotion, violence is an action. Anger can be helpful, violence can be harmful. Anger is simply a result of feeling something inside, then expressing it. You can be angry and still perfectly rational. 

The problem with perpetually calm people is that you don’t know their inner motives. They wear a perfect poker face like emotionless mannequins. 

Let’s be clear, when anger becomes irrational and violent, it’s bad. But anger can indeed change the world.

Anger inspires action. It inspires change. It propels passionate people to snap out of their complacency and indifference, and do extraordinary things. It helps make the world a better place for all.

Anger compelled Martin Luther King to lead a non-violent charge to speak out against racial hatred and help achieve civil rights in America.

Anger compelled Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn to write an incredibly powerful book, Half The Sky, to raise awareness of severely oppressed women around the world. Which I highly recommend reading because it will make you informed (and angry).

Anger compelled Robert Kenner to create the documentary, Food Inc., to help inform the world of the disastrous health and environmental consequences of America’s industrialized food system. He also launched a website called,

Anger compelled Cesar Chavez, Bob Geldof, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and thousands of others too numerous to name. 

How do I know that anger was the active ingredient in the minds of these people? Because only the emotion of anger can literally eat someone from the inside out and compel them into activism. Despite fear.

Some people avoid anger for health reasons. And there’s some evidence to support that. However, I believe the supposed health risks can be mitigated by a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and quiet meditation (whatever kind you’re into).

The world is definitely broken. And you can do your part to help fix it. Just allow yourself to get angry. It’s powerful fuel. Become a passionate person and take action. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice once in a while.

I’m beginning to view my passionate, angry, ranting friends differently. I’m realizing that they are actually more trustworthy than the rest. They might wear their emotions on their sleeve, but I like that they’re not holding anything back. There’s no guile. No pretense. I know the real them. And I’m invigorated by an animated person who actually stands for something.

So let’s get some righteous anger about the things that need fixing and transform our spineless, soft-spoken, emotionless culture for future generations. 

(But I say again, please avoid irrationality and violence. It’s counterproductive. Remember, words are more powerful than fists.)


Note: In case you didn’t know, this is an advertising-focused blog. So I should add here that anger can help transform anything and everything—including the advertising industry. It just needs a few passionate people to show some backbone and let anger move them to action.