“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
from “Thoughtful Mind”
I do not think that there is a single person who would not agree with the statement I am about to write; of all of the emotions that the human heart is capable of holding, the most destructive and unhealthy one is anger. If there is anything to be learned from human history, it is that the emotion of anger is the single most life altering emotion man is capable of. Anger has toppled civilizations and torn apart the very fabric of man’s humanity to his fellow man. It destroys families and erodes love from relationships. It effects the destruction of self-esteem for millions and causes most people to lose their way as they travel the path that is life. And whether or not the emotion was born within our own heart or we are merely the innocent victim of another’s wrath, the damage that is done is exactly the same! And yet do we, without realizing it, make conscious choices in our everyday lives that fan those flames of anger, often re-igniting the fire even when time has allowed it to be reduced to a single, tiny ember?
The Bible speaks of two types of anger….RIGHTEOUS and UNRIGHTEOUS…. and even implies that one of the two is a more acceptable emotion. And while the cause of the first might it make that seem to be true, I think that either type causes the same damaging effects to our humanity as well as to that garment of skin and bone and internal organs we wear, that houses our very soul. Whether prompted by another or our own weaknesses, both types of anger makes us sad. Both types of anger causes us sleepless nights full of nightmares. Both types of anger changes our functioning during those waking hours. Perhaps we lose our appetite not just for food but for everything that affords us any pleasure. Or perhaps we turn to something we find comforting like food, eating everything in sight (ahem…..me…..that’s me)!
Yet with all our frailties and weaknesses, the human animal is lucky. Our gift of reason as well as free will, allows us to choose the behaviors we will share with others and allows us the opportunity of consciously curbing the destructive effects of anger. Most of us do not like the way we feel when we are angry which allows us to dissect and examine not just the cause of the emotion but to then to make a plan and take steps to improve the way we feel. Perhaps we just sit and think about the problem which can provide us with insights that will help to quench those flames that burn within. Or perhaps we seek out the sage advice of others, either family or friends or counselors, who are able to help us with the anger we feel. Whatever it is we choose, we are lucky that it is within our power, each of us, to change our behavior. The question then remains, are we able to see this and do something about it?
The Righteous Anger
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
but for Cain and his offering he [the LORD] had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
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