Choose Your Anger


I was getting my Saturday off to a good start, waiting for the coffee to kick in, and scrolling through Facebook when I saw a headline.

Anger consumes iPhone 7 queues at Apple stores as phones sell out around the world.

I must admit it made me feel a little bit angry myself. I wondered if the anger of those missing out on their preferred model of iPhone 7 was anything like the anger I saw first hand in Haiti in April 2008, when horrendous price increases put basic food items beyond the reach of most people, forcing them to eat dirt. It was the time of the global financial crisis which resulted in the global food crisis.

After begging the government to help them put food on their families’ tables and getting an indifferent response, people began rioting. Their anger resulted from the frustration of seeing those they loved starve. At least five people were killed in the riots and many were injured.

Haitians were comparing their hunger pains to “eating bleach” because of the burning feeling in their stomachs.

In March, people began complaining of a hunger so torturous that it felt like their stomachs were being eaten away by bleach or battery acid.

In a matter of days, “Clorox hunger”, named after a brand of bleach, was being talked about in slums and villages across the country. – Aljazeera

I’ve seen plenty of other situations over the years where anger is a justified response but I thought of Haiti today because that was a turning point in my life. Being caught up in the riots and facing very real danger as we were evacuated from the country at that time is one of the milestone events that have shaped me into the person I am today. I was there with Compassion Australia and it was that trip in 2008 that started my journey towards beginning full time work with Compassion in 2013.

Yes, I know that we can all get angry about a range of things that don’t really matter but getting angry about not being able to spend over $1000 is probably just wasted energy.

Anger can be a powerful motivator to bring about positive change. So why would we waste it on simply not getting our own way?

When I get angry in traffic I have to remind myself that I’m just being childish and that I should just get over myself. While others’ driving habits may be annoying from time to time I’m not achieving anything by wasting my emotional energy over their misdemeanors.

I want to save my anger for the injustices I see around the world. Poverty, racism, abuses of various kinds, exploitation of the vulnerable, these are the things that should be making us angry and causing us to act. We need to choose our anger. We need to stop stomping our feet like a two year old who doesn’t get their own way and look outside ourselves.

Maybe I’m just overthinking a simple headline about a phone but hearing about people getting angry over not being able to spend what would be more than three years wages for many people on this planet makes me …. angry.


If you want a few more details on my time in Haiti with some other Australian broadcasters, check out this video. It contains clips showing just a glimpse of the situation outside the Port-au-Prince Compassion office just before a rock came through the window we were standing near. The video, while still fairly rough, shows a little of the scene before the rock attack.

You can see the beginnings of the crowd heading down the street, some armed with crude weapons.

The next thing you see is the shattered glass in the room where it all happened and then a bit of a debrief between members of the team. Several of us, including me, had a chance to talk over the situation. This was really only the beginning of the danger we faced. Things got a lot more intense later that day and the following morning.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Vengance is mine saith the Lord.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Reminds of about One of the guys at my church went to Romania recently. He said the homeless gepsies huff paint to easy hunger pains. Their govt won’t help them because they have no proof of born citizenship.

    • Thanks for dropping in, Steve. I’ve seen similar things in a couple of countries where a people group remains unrecognised by the government and has no way of creating income to look after their families.

  • I agree that there are many different things that might justify anger than the fact that a luxury phone sells out. Thank you for sharing your story and for the work you do through Compassion Australia. Also, because you posted the video and I heard your Australian accents, I can read your post in an Australian accent which I love.

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