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Does anger come innately deep within us?


If you turn on your local televised news broadcast, I can guarantee you’ll not be short on seeing violent tragedies including school shootings, terror attacks, war and protests. Violence is usually motivated by anger but what exactly is anger? Is anger rage, frustration, jealousy or something entirely its own? Why do we possess anger if it brings nothing but violence and disaster? Do we perhaps need anger to survive or was it simply an evolutionary fault? Is it a necessity or a burden? Or beyond evolution, does anger come innately deep within us the moment we are born?


Some philosophers argue that anger is innate, we are born with it and there is no way to avoid it. Other philosophers argue that though we may innately possess anger we mustn't succumb to it. Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “Remember that it is we who torment, we who make difficulties for ourselves – that is, our opinions do. What, for instance, does it mean to be insulted? Stand by a rock and insult it, and what have you accomplished? If someone responds to insult like a rock, what has the abuser gained with his invective?” Some people would argue that anger is a necessity as it’s a wonderful motivator for a good outcome. But stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca argues that the best form of motivation comes from something positive like love or justice. Seneca believes that anger was just a form of temporary madness (or insanity) and we should not be a victim of it.


So then what exactly is madness? Out of the hundreds of novels I’ve read in my lifetime I can’t find a better example of madness than Jack from William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies. If you’re unfamiliar with Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, it is a novel essentially about a group of British schoolboys marooned and shipwrecked on an island. They then have to establish order and survive within their small community but eventually madness and savagery takes over the lawless island and the boys end up splitting into two groups hurting and even killing certain members of their own class. Going back to my point, there is a power struggle on the “Chief” of the island. Originally Ralph becomes Chief but Jack arrogantly believes he deserves to be Chief. Long story short, Jack then takes half of the boys to the other side of the island as acting Chief and then a civil war ensues.


Violence erupts, casualties occur and lives are lost. This tragedy was purely sparked by Jack’s arrogance and his obsession in power. Could all of this bloodshed been avoided? Many readers would argue yes. Instead of forcefully claiming his right, Jack could have approached this power struggle in a less violent way. Perhaps the island could have two acting chiefs. Surely any other option would have been more ideal than the ending. Yet Golding offers us that blood-filled ending. The ending where Simon and Piggy’s lives are lost as a consequence. Jack’s obsession with his selfish goals only created victims within his path.


Golding depicts that all of us are innately savage and with the proper motivation, we are able to manifest all forms of destruction. But in the end of the novel when the boys were finally rescued, none of the struggle mattered. The conch and the title as Chief were immediately worthless. What remained was the haunting reminder of Simon and Piggy’s death.

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