Aren’t We Right to be Angry?

How to Respond to Social Injustice: An interview with Buddhist scholar John Makransky

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In May 2011, at the Newark Peace Education Summit in New Jersey, the Dalai Lama and Jody Williams—both Nobel Peace Prize winners—debated the role of anger in social action work. The Dalai Lama held that people must have inner peace in order to promote peace in the world. “Too much emotion, attachment, anger, or fear, that kind of mental state, you can’t investigate objectively,” he said. Williams respectfully disagreed. “It’s anger at injustice which fires many of us,” she argued.

As Buddhists, we may tend to agree with the Dalai Lama. But after listening to Williams, a powerful activist for social change, a compelling question emerged: Is anger ever a good thing?

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