Day 65, May 20, 2020


(A continuation of meditations on the 7 Deadly Sins)

For the most part, I've tried to avoid dwelling on things like anger, particularly in this moment. There is already so much to be angry about and "anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering," as someone once said.

Camila did a portrait of me for a college project.
So what if we deconstruct anger instead. I think of anger as a response to lack of agency. It is what we turn to when there appear to be no choices, when there are no viable options. Or at least, none that we like. So maybe that doesn't work so easily, because there is still agency there. 

Maybe, anger is one of our core emotions, something like love, where even small children can treat a puppy with love, cuddle a stuffed animal with care, or even caress an infant sibling with the tenacity of a loyal care giver. And like these expressions of love and compassion, there are also the primal expressions of anger, the frustration of not getting to do the thing one wants to do, the perceived injustice. The injury.

But it is complicated, because we foster alternatives to anger, we channel anger into different activities, we diffuse anger into sadness, meditation, solitude, anxiety. Anger takes so many forms, and most of us, as functioning adults, have figured out different ways to cope with the release of that anger in ways that hopefully do not harm others.

I often tell people I am 98-99% a pacifist. But, I also recognize that I have a capacity for anger, and while I do not express that anger with violence, I recognize the capacity for it to emerge in that way. We all have triggers that make us respond in ways that perhaps are out of proportion with any specific event, that is what makes microaggressions so powerful, they add up in a cumulative way that can get released in a torrent. So, for me, racial taunts, or racist incidents are a particular trigger for the 1-2% of me that can imagine breaking things and worse. 

But for all my human capacity, that hasn't happened. Instead, I dwell on the things I could have done. My actual actions are some combination of ineffectual verbal intervention and walking away and second guessing myself for decades afterwards. And really, that's probably the better resolution. Maybe.

I have no desire to live consumed by anger. Expressing anger has never done anything productive for me. Playing music while angry just sounds terrible. Chopping wood while angry is just asking for injury. Smashing sticks, breaking glass, throwing chairs, all of them are bad ideas. 

This whole blog post feels like an utter waste. I've accomplished nothing. It is pissing me off. Who wants to read about a failed attempt to deconstruct anger from a person who struggles with expressing anger.

I guess that is the root of it for me. I struggle with expressing anger. I desire for things to be thoughtful, contemplative, and well reasoned. Or, I desire for things to be intuited, improvised, developed as a medium might draw a sprit from darkened room, and for me, anger interrupts all of those things. And when those things are interrupted, I become less productive, I become less creative, I lose a sense of agency, and more often what merges instead is despair, depression. 

I think there are some people for whom anger is a source of passion, expression, production. I am not one of those people. That doesn't mean I don't get angry... I just don't express it well.

Ah, I better stop.
What a terrible idea to mediate on the deadly sins.

They have a tenuous relationship.

From Our Friends:

From UMass' College of Natural Sciences:

The decision to pursue one academic or professional path over another may feel like free choice, but often it is constrained by subtle cues in achievement settings that signal who belongs there and who doesn’t. These constraints hold back girls, women, and students of color in STEM. How do we release these constraints and enhance individuals’ real freedom to pursue academic and professional paths despite stereotypes to the contrary?

Join Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of psychology and the inaugural director of the Institute of Diversity Sciences at UMass Amherst, as she takes you on a journey through her decade long research program and offers evidence-based solutions to increase the success of diverse groups in STEM education and careers.

To learn more about the research and advocacy of the Institute of Diversity Sciences at the College of Natural Sciences, UMass Amherst, join us for this Zoom webinar on Thursday, May 28 at 11am, EST. Registration is required to obtain a link to the event, and can be done by visiting

Some local graffiti.

Today's Online Teaching Tips:

From Teaching Tolerance:

Supporting Students Through Coronavirus

We’re grateful to educators continuing to support students and families through the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve developed resources to support student well-being and learning during closures, including articles about culturally responsive teaching, addressing coronavirus racism and more. We’ll keep this page updated as we publish new pieces. 

From The New York Times:

What will college look like in the fall?
Many colleges and universities in the U.S. are now grappling with how and when to reopen their campuses and what college life will be like under a pandemic. They are coming up with a variety of answers.

Our higher education reporter, Anemona Hartocollis, listened in on two days of Zoom calls among leaders at the University of Kentucky as they deliberated over what to do. They discussed all kinds of issues, from whether to have quarantine dorms to how to regulate interactions between students. Anemona told us about the experience.

From University Business:

I would like to invite you to our upcoming web seminar on Thursday, May 21 at 2:00 ET, entitled Getting Started Online: Research-based Practices to Support Quality Teaching and Learning.

Many institutions have had to make a sudden transition to online learning. Even under ideal circumstances, making the transition from in-person teaching and learning to an online environment is a big step.

In this webinar, we welcome experienced instructional design experts from D2L, who will discuss research-based best practices and effective strategies for moving any college or university to an online learning environment.

We’re looking forward to a very informative presentation and discussion, plus live Q&A.

Even if you aren't able to attend the live event, feel free to register and you will receive access to the presentation and the event recording.

From the Online Learning Consortium:

A newly released, faculty-focused playbook from Every Learner Everywhere provides much-needed expert resources and guidance to assist higher education faculty in their journey to online teaching in response to COVID-19.The playbook was developed by the Online Learning Consortium, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Every Learner Everywhere, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The playbook provides a path for continuous improvement of instruction along a quality-oriented continuum.
  • Design guides immediate and basic needs for moving a course online.  
  • Enhance provides options to strengthen the student learning experience.  
  • Optimize offers ideas and resources for online teaching that aligns with high-quality, evidence-based instructional practices. 
Learn more and download.


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