Ruta Mave: Righteous anger at Covid-19 response

Monday March 23, 2020 Published in Editorials
Henry Puna. 20032220 Henry Puna. 20032220

OPINION: Mothers of sons, teach them to control their anger and respect others in these difficult times.


Anger. It is a powerful emotion that people feel from time to time when someone or something frustrates or annoys them.

Common triggers for anger are losing your patience, feeling as if your opinion or efforts aren’t appreciated and injustice. Anger is a normal response to some situations, but it is how you respond to them that makes you who you are.

“Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” – Proverbs 14:29  

As an emotion, anger is often used to cover up guilt, shame and embarrassment. When a husband comes home late and the wife asks if he is having an affair, if he jumps straight into a rage shouting while avoiding answering the question, then you know he’s guilty. 

When you are guilty, you feel unhappy because you know you have done something wrong or have failed to do something which you should have done, or let someone down. It’s a feeling of deserving blame for offences.

This self-conscious emotion, if followed by a painful appraisal, can often encourage a readiness to take action designed to undo or mitigate this wrong.  

However, when a person is feeling powerless, they will often use anger as their show of strength or power, when actually it achieves the exact opposite.

“Fools give full vent to their rage but the wise bring calm in the end.” – Proverbs 29:11

We only have great power when we control our emotions and have patience, unlike those who let anger take over.

Mothers of sons, teach them now how to speak calmly and rationally, teach them how to see and converse with a woman as an equal partner, because they’re going to find more and more strong, intelligent, vocal, articulate women in their lives more than other generations, and they need to be prepared.

They have to understand that violence physically or verbally is no longer the accepted behaviour in our society.

Men are finding they’re less able to put down women, by calling them names in public, or trying to humiliate or downgrade them in media.

Women are standing up in ways no one has seen before. The #MeToo movement has torn open old patriarchal network boundaries and brought down long-accepted norms that will not be tolerated any more. 

Historical sex cases with priests, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Clinton have shown this. 

The female senators, and federal judges in America are showing this. And teenagers the likes of Emma Gonzalez on gun control, Malala Yousafzai shot by Taliban, Greta Thunberg responding to climate change, are empowering women of all ages to speak up, and speak out.

On Thursday, March 19, I called for leadership in this time of crisis. We need leaders like Jacinda Ardern to guide us; instead we have absenteeism and verbal outrage – none of which answered my question, “what personal sacrifice will our MPs make?”

Mark Brown released a $61 million economic stimulus package, and everyone is happy. At first glance it looks good. To support the vulnerable, they have given $400 in a one off payment.

They gave themselves $423 a week extra, every week. Is this fair? Or selfish?

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt returned home from Covid-19 infected Hawai’i with Prime Minister Henry Puna.

Pitt went into self-quarantine for 14 days, as required by the Police Commissioner “for all staff returning from an infected country”.

And where was our Prime Minister Henry Puna on Friday night? And Saturday morning? Not in quarantine.

Again, I ask: Where is our leadership demonstrating compassion, care and role-modelling for our nation?

Nowhere. I’ve been calm, and patient. Now I’m justifiably angry.


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