The most dangerous anger I’ve witnessed lately is righteous indignation. The reason it is dangerous is humans aren’t righteous. We are most prone to do ugly things to each other when we’re angry and either it is justified or we believe we are justified.
It saddens me that so many grown adults behave as if they honestly believe “I am angry, and you were wrong, therefore you are no longer worthy of my respect, kindness, or being treated fairly, and I have every right to lash out and hurt you.”
This may be one of the greatest social ills plaguing my country today, perhaps the world. I see it all over the news, cropping up in many different ways, but the underlying spirit of “righteous” rage is the same, and it can drive good, reasonable people to do the cruelest of things to the people they love, sometimes perfect strangers.
One danger I see is how this rage can blind us to the hypocrisy of our actions. “Person X said/did Y to person X and this is deplorable. We should never do/say such hurtful, mean-spirited things. I will teach Person X by saying/doing hurtful, mean-spirited things to Person X. They deserve it, so I am totally clean. My nasty behavior is justified by the nasty behavior of Person X.”
When we succumb to such thinking, in realty, we have become part of the problem ourselves. We have become what we hate.
Brothers and sisters, we can be dismayed but not too surprised when the world behaves in this manner as our culture slides further and further away from any sort of Christian foundation. Let’s seek to keep it out of the Church, starting with the one person whose actions we have any control over: the person in the mirror.
Let’s respond to evil with good. When they curse, let’s bless. When they’re rude, let’s pray for strength from God to speak kindly and respectfully back. A soft answer turns away wrath; turning the other cheek to insults can break the spread of the rage overtaking many.
No matter how wrong they are, and what we think they deserve, let’s try to take a step back, remember Christ took the wrath of God that we deserved for our wrongs on the Cross. Let’s offer freely the love we have received from Christ, and let’s try to keep in mind the love of Christ is also rather different from the world’s idea of love, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Breathe. Slow, long. When your body tenses up, choose to unclench those clenched muscle groups. Acknowledge to yourself that you are angry. Acknowledge the reality of the wrong/injustice/threat provoking the anger response. Pray and ask God for wisdom in how to address the real issue while by being kind, respectful, gentle, patient and forgiving toward the other party rather than attacking in kind. We won’t always succeed. We will fail and make our own mistakes. As much as we safely can, be sure to acknowledge your own wrong to the other person as their wrong does not justify ours.
Hate can’t be overcome with hate. It only can be overcome with God’s love.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.