Anger is a National Disease

Posted on February 9, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Photo of the Day, Society
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Adil Najam

This picture is of PIA employees in a violent fist fight (haatha-paee) at Karachi airport during a strike by PIA employees. The strike, its reasons, the political economy that led to it, the state of the national airline, and the politics that surround it are all important topics and all worthy of discussion. So is this picture as a picture.

At one level the context of this picture matters little. It is a representation of an angst and an anger that has now become a national disease. It is a representation of an anger that we see around us everywhere – and all the time. Anger is a natural and normal phenomenon. But there is nothing natural and nothing normal about the level of anger that seethes in our society. Indeed, within all of us. An anger you see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Indeed, you cn see it on display all over our comments section.

The first step in anger management, we are told, is to recognize that one has a problem. Let us begin, please, by doing just that!

31 Comments on “Anger is a National Disease”

  1. Gardezi says:
    February 9th, 2011 11:43 am

    A very brave and forthright piece Dr. Najam. Few words and so much meaning.

    Now get ready for angry Pakistan to get angry at you! Afterall we are so good at it :-)

  2. Raheel says:
    February 9th, 2011 12:02 pm

    But there is also so many reasons to be angry. No?

  3. Nadeem Ahsan says:
    February 9th, 2011 4:05 pm

    Dr Najam, while you have brought to light a very important issue that afflicts our society, what is the cure? Certainly anger management classes are not feasible given the size of the population. Is their something wrong with the Pakistani DNA? One look at our talk shows and its amply clear that our entire society needs a catharsis of sorts to begin with. Alas, who will start the process

  4. Omar Salam Ansari says:
    February 9th, 2011 4:55 pm

    In the books of psychology, Anger is not a natural behavior but a learned one. You learn to resort to it when you start to believe that it is the easiest way of getting to your goals. This obviously happens when you give low priority to others’ will and don’t want to keep a just balance between you and others.

    Religions tend to make laws according to natural needs of the individual and the society. And interestingly most of them profess against anger. So the earlier we accept it as a learn-able (and definitely a forgettable) trait, the earlier we can excel in anger management.

  5. Faraaz says:
    February 9th, 2011 5:21 pm

    There are a lot of reasons for anger.
    Price hike of essentials, load-shedding, water bills, petrol prices, shortage of gas, heat, weather etc. Someone might be angry about not getting the job despite the bribe and ‘sifarish’. Someone else is angry because they dont have the sifarish and bribe. Someone is angry about not getting the overseas visa. Someone is angry about waiting 5 years to get the plot issues sorted. Someone is angry about traffic congestion. Someone is angry about Pakistani players getting banned.
    There are many reasons really. When it becomes as big a phenomena as it is in our society, I dont think anger management and psychology can help. It can help a handful of people, not millions of people.

  6. Jawed says:
    February 9th, 2011 7:19 pm

    Everyone is always angry.
    Very true.
    And we somehow think that being angry is good.
    TV anchors who are nothing more than angry are actually thought to be ‘courageous’.

  7. February 9th, 2011 7:22 pm

    Comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “true”
    - “We are always angry as a nation because mentally we have got nothing else to do! Frustration translates into anger and further into violence as we witness daily on the news channels.”
    - “n islam , getting angry is justified for a cause. the prophet was very angry with the jews. he exiled banu nadir and quinoqua and killed the banu quraiza. its yr right as a muslim to get angry.”
    - “naraazgi aur ghussay mein farq hota hai molvi sahab!
    har jaga islam ko ghalat quote nahi karna chahiye!
    hamen to bachpan se ye sikhaya gya hai k Ghussay ko pee jana chahiye!”
    - “narazgi ubal kar gussay mein badal jati hai. laykin agar mamlay mein dum hai to gussay zaroori hai. . saw nay baday gussay mein yahudiyon ka sir kat diya”
    - “good article”
    - “Anger is not the national disease……it the expression of a disease !!
    The actual disease is …dishonest,corrupt and self seeking government which has brought total disappointment to the entire nation….and they are expressing that frus…”

  8. faraz says:
    February 9th, 2011 8:26 pm

    anger plus jahalat is a scary combination

  9. Azra says:
    February 9th, 2011 9:23 pm

    Those who are blaming this on government of ‘conditions’ are fooling themselves. There are plenty of places in the world with worse problems but not this level of anger or violence. More than that the anger and violence in our society is everywhere, even in how we talk to each other. Go to a shop and see people talking to shopkeepers. Civility in society has all but died. We may actually have now become the most badtameez soiety on earth!
    Sorry to say that, but the badtameezi, the anger and the violence has now taken over everyone!

  10. najia says:
    February 9th, 2011 10:35 pm

    I would say people are taking out their angers/voilance ,where it looked possible regardless of whom they are angry on .for example if they have anger on political leaders or at some corruption department or police ,they are taking out all these anger on small thieves,somebody weak,because ofcoarse they can not grab some rich ,powerful neck.So please if you really have that stamena go to your required person,dont spread panic and voilence….

  11. AlixKhan11 says:
    February 9th, 2011 11:02 pm

    @Azra: Thanks for saying what I was trying to figure out how to say.

    There are rougher spots in the world where people do not behave like that.

    The reason people are showing “anger” in public is that there are repercussions. In any civilized country, the dark shirt will be arrested and prosecuted for physical assault while then white shirt will sue him for physical harm/emotional stress. Here it is a free for all.

  12. Daktar says:
    February 10th, 2011 12:48 am

    Actually, it is an epidemic.
    And its an infectuous disease.
    One guy gets it and then everyone else around him also gets it. That is how it works.

  13. Adnan says:
    February 10th, 2011 8:28 am

    It is ironic that a picture of 2 Pakistani men fighting is a reflection on the whole Pakistani society, whereas acts of kindness and forgiveness that take place in my motherland everyday are completely overlooked. Makes me wonder; whose side are our journalists and intellectuals really on anyway?

  14. February 10th, 2011 9:48 am

    @Azra – We may actually have now become the most badtameez society on earth!

    There are reasons and this behavior has been inculcated in our society by vested interests. Look at the injustices everywhere in our society and no way to redress, no way to give vent to one’s feelings, no one to turned to in utter despair.

    All this can be mitigated only if justice is provided and in our society justice is delayed to a point where it becomes denied.

  15. Ehtisham says:
    February 10th, 2011 9:57 am

    Today at airports all across Pakistan it was even worse. badtameezi rules everywhere. No, it is not because of injustice, lets please not blame others. We are all badtameez and this behavior is everywhere. Whatever the reasons might one have been. Now, it is WE who are the problem.

  16. Musalman says:
    February 10th, 2011 10:06 am

    Adnan is SOOOO right.
    We are a sweet people. No one sweeter than Adnan. Always polite. Always considerate. Always thinking of others.

    But sweetness is all over Pakistan. For example, when we want to go to heaven, we no only blow ourselves up, we also blow up those around us so that they can also go to heaven. And the Juma Khutba is the epitome of kindness. Don’t go by the angry sounds and grunts our mullahs make over loudspeakers. The content is full of kindness. Always trying to make sure we know what is wrong with the world and what is worth being angry about. Angry enough to actually kill for. And if you really want to see the true face of considerate and kind behavior go to any rally of the umatti hazraat of the Rehmatullil Alameen – just hear the sounds and tones at any religious rally. Words of love. Of kindness. Of brotherhood. Never a list of who should be killed. Who should be maimed. Who should be burnt. Who should be lynched.

    Indeed, we are such a kind people! How dare you write this, Prof. Najam.

  17. ShahidnUSA says:
    February 10th, 2011 1:31 pm

    Theater plays and sports would be the best way to reach the mass and do the anger management I think. I liked what Shakespeare once said
    “This world is a stage, And all the men and women are merely players”.
    Remember the Players private, personal life is remained dormant to the public, as much as their characters become a Roll Model and the message, so the care should be taken.
    Also, in TV talk shows please let one person speak at a time, do not ‘shout’ and be brief.
    Violence is tickling but should be strongly frowned upon.

    I dont know how it all got started.

  18. Monano says:
    February 10th, 2011 3:15 pm

    The author is angry at Pakistanis because they are angry at
    corrupt ruler’s attempt to sell a non tangible asset (PIA business in Europe and North America) just like killing the duck which laid non-golden eggs. Perhaps the medal would not make the author angry at the devastating condition of Pakistani economy in general and the national flag carrier in particular. Its may actually be a fear that this anger may not result in anger similar to anger in Tunisia and Tahrir Square.

    For the author, every common Pakistani is angry because he could not get a chance to flee to civilized world like the author did. It reminds me of a funny picture about hierarchy fun. May be Google images can help me find it.

    Similarly, the author was angry at Pakistanis because they were angry at Raymond Davis for no reason whatsoever. The anger of Pakistanis, escalating with the anger of Shumaila Faheem in losing hope for justice and eventually committing suicide, is making US govt. angry. This anger is aggravated as the victims’ families refused the bribe and green card offered by US consulate in Lahore, taking the American anger to a new hight. This anger is fuelled to surpass the Washington Monument with the release of visa document of Davis confirming that he was not a diplomat but an angry secret operative trained to be a precision killer even from inside a moving car.

    What makes me angry is why western media and Pakistani govt. are not angry about it? Perhaps they have already gone through the Anger Management course conducted by Adil Najam.

  19. February 10th, 2011 4:26 pm

    I don’t understand why you say ‘national disease.’Something which is an outcome of lifestyle cannot be considered a disease; rather, a lifestyle related disorder or syndrome of various other diseases such as depression, hypertension, matrimonial discords, etc. Stress, busy schedules, environment degradation, and in case of Pakistan, the failed state creates a perfect state of frustration and anger.

  20. DERVISH says:
    February 10th, 2011 4:30 pm

    ANGER is not a disease, its the otherside of sweetness. This sweetnatured society has been looted,exploited,raped by everyone in power,whatelse then you expect from it.
    Soon we may see nuclear war with Mushrikeen (India)by this nation, giving vent to their anger if some Messiha would not emerge from within themselves

  21. February 10th, 2011 5:55 pm

    Anger has become a national disease because of the circumstances. As a Pakistani National, one is exploited at almost every step. There is distress and frustration every where. The person who have the Government resources are striving hard to make use of all these for their own selves and so the common Pakistani is lacking even the basic necessities.

  22. AHsn says:
    February 10th, 2011 7:11 pm

    “Anger is a National Disease”

    If the Nation contains the common people, then I will say that the “Patience is a National Disease” and the Anger is its remedy.

    It is because of the patience that Pakistan is advancing towards more and more of undemocratic system of government. It is because of the patience of the Nation that the leaders and the rulers are more and more corrupt. It is because of the patience of the people that Army is independent of the Nation and the Nation is controlled by Army. Any Nation has an Army. In Pakistan the Army has a Nation.

    The Anger of the people is the only remedy to reverse the situation. But this Anger should not be soft fist-fight between the two citizens. It should be real Anger which is called a “Revolt”.

    “Anger is a National Remedy”


  23. Samdani says:
    February 10th, 2011 7:49 pm

    In a way this may be the toughest post you have written. Because you have raised a mirror to society and people do not like what they see so they lash out at you. I remember long ago there was a post you write when people in Karachi burned two people who they thought were robbers. It was similar to this about anger. Instead of feeling shocked, people in comments started defending the action. Just as they are defending violence and anger now. Of course, they have to because they see this abnormal behavior in themselves. Then later the Sialkot incident happened and two young men were hanged. Now, everyone was aghast and so surprised. I wondered why. The same people who were ‘defending’ anger as ‘legitimate’ were now crying crocodile tears for what their anger had landed us in.

  24. February 11th, 2011 2:56 pm

    Anger is merely a symptom of the disease and not the disease itself.

  25. February 12th, 2011 11:09 am

    More comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “Anger it’s is national disease, but not only that in the future this nation gonna become a cannibal (aadam khuer) disease. It’s very sad to say that & time is not that far away. My teacher Ms. Foster told me 30 years ago.
    God bless PAKISTAN.”
    - “…….whole nation has become aadam khore jaanwar …have no tolerance for each others …….anger is a culture there ………… this situation what kind of human we will produce in our society………… shamefull”
    - “This haath paaee is our national disease.. To say someone wrong and I am right,,, This is quite wrong”

  26. ad says:
    February 12th, 2011 12:24 pm

    The level of anger depicts the amount of injustice a common man has to go through everyday.

  27. mehboob baig says:
    February 12th, 2011 4:57 pm

    I will say freedom of speech

  28. Sajjad says:
    February 12th, 2011 10:56 pm

    The argument that people engage in uncivilized behavior because the Government/political leadership/xyz is corrupt etc. does not hold much weight. Usually the target of such behavior is our fellow citizen and not the powerful. We need to learn how to treat each other with respect and practice tolerance for each other. We know how teachers get mad at students. And how Sahab Jees/Begum Sahibas treat their subordinates, and so on. It is about respecting the rights of others and learning how to resolve conflicts in civilized ways.

  29. Afreen says:
    February 15th, 2011 1:35 pm

    Very well said. We have become more and more angry. So much that now we do not even know what we are angry at!

  30. Afridi says:
    February 16th, 2011 4:02 am

    The disease of anger has really gotten out of hand. It has nothing to do with government. Just drive down a road anywhere in Pakistan and you will see anger on display EVERYWHERE!

  31. Khuram Khan says:
    February 17th, 2011 7:42 pm

    Once three persons shared a room,now 18 persons share the same room. It is our population which is bursting at seams,add to this the corrupt and incompetent management(governance) and you have the recipe for anger.

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