Saturday, June 22, 2013

Doesn’t that make you ANGRY???

There it is AGAIN!! I thought I had put that to bed once and for all!! But, Nooooo! Here it is again, that urge to react, to respond with anger, to fight back

The voice on the other end of the phone didn’t even say Hello when I answered… just..  “Who do you think you are” the irate voice, dripping with venom nearly jumping out of the receiver.

WOW. That was a shocker. It took me a moment to settle my thoughts after after a most troubling conversation. As a member of a local volunteer group I had recently agreed to help a friend by advertising an upcoming charitable event on our organization’s web site.  

Who Do I Think I Am?  Am I a person who reacts to anger? A person who needs tit-for-tat, whose pride and self importance are so stiff that I can’t bend in humility when challenged? 

I asked myself, "Am I a person that has to get back, to get even, to be hurt, upset, to react in like manner?"   I didn't really like the answer I was getting back from myself.  At that moment I was hurt, insulted, bewildered, submerged in a pool of self pity, injustice and resentment.  I was ANGRY.

That one conversation has been so beneficial.  It helped me see that anger is not a solution, but a trap, a venting of self righteousness, not productive, not endearing, not a way to elicit cooperation, not a pathway to clear thinking nor positive results.

Truly "Anger, is the nemesis of all ages". And yet how very popular it is. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to get plain old MAD!! In newspapers, television and on the internet we see that anger is boiling over in Brazil, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. There is anger in Washington and across the country  over many issues.  

Even here in my neighborhood in the North Georgia mountains,  the local newspaper reports an uproar over topics ranging from animal control to outrage over the local farmers’ market being kicked out of its normal place in the City Park. So many reasons to be ANGRY!!

TV networks seem to love anger... they report a terrible story and then invite us to “get angry, get upset, get irate.”

”Weigh in”, they say.  "Join in the conversation, give us your comments”.  And we are tempted to fall for it. As they stir the pot, we get agitated and upset, and like a pesky fly, buzzing around your face until you finally get fed up and smack yourself in the face trying to get that fly, and… voila… you hurt yourself!!! That's anger for ya'. I am hoping I am not the only one that has done this dumb trick!!

recall a statement by Katharine Graham who led the Washington Post for two decades and wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning memoir. Her memorable quote is

The longer I live, the more I observe that carrying around anger is the most debilitating to the person who bears it.

Oh Katherine, how well you put it. Your statement speaks volumes.

Now, of course, we all have opinions on topics of interest. Our own human experience has shaped our thoughts but in truth, anger is not really necessary.  Seth Gordon a marketing consultant recently wrote a short blurb in which he said that "Anger is a habit", a habit he calls 'a thoughtless response to an incoming trigger.'”

The most successful people in the world have been able to overcome the tendency to "thoughtless responses" and having their thinking clouded by anger. 

Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the Bible, advised us to turn the other cheek when confronted. This was not a sign of weakness, but exhibited a profound understanding that things that make us angry are distractions that would pull us away from our true selfhood, the image of Love,  the likeness of our Creator.

Relating back to my air-traffic control days I remember when a plane was in an emergency and needed to make a gear up landing, we always foamed the runway. As the plane approached and touched down metal to concrete, instead of a shower of sparks the foam smoothed the way, lessened the friction, removed most of the danger, prevented fires from erupting due to the sparks hitting fuel leaks.

I’d like to share my little list of reminders, my "Foam the Runway" thoughts that help me avoid getting angry, serve to dampen the sparks that would ignite discord, disappointment and ill feelings.  They are taken from The Bible. These “helpers”, provide guidance, as follows: 
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”   “Leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”  “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

Feel free to use that checklist every day.  If
 we would find life’s peace, inner calm, and a joyous existence, we can turn off the TV of anger and enjoy the sweet classical music of peace.

A nineteenth century theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, faced incredible challenges in her life as a woman in a what was at that time strictly a man's world in religious circles.  Her calm and tenderness are good examples  for us all and she urges us to pray for patience, in the following, quoted from "
Blessings of Forgiveness": 

Ask to be made patient    
And loving when persecuted…
Ask to be gentle tempered
And delivered from all anger
Or spirit of revenge.
Ask for this daily bread to feed you. 
 Mary Baker Eddy

And finally, maybe the most helpful for me, when I feel that old temptation rising to get angry, I hear the gentle but firm voice of my wonderful Mother, calling softly from the past, ‘Patrick, you know better than that.” "Yes, I do. And thank you Mom. I’ll try to do better.”


Anonymous said...

Wonderful article, Pat. Thoughtful,loving, responses rather than hasty, angry, reaction would certainly lead to a more peaceful, joyful world today. Janet

Poet said...

Very nice essay, Pat. Thanks for sharing with us. As we have learned from Jesus' teachings and from Christian Science--not to mention experience!--we cannot hold resentment nor retaliate, no matter what others seem to do to us. I've found it helpful to cultivate a daily, watchful humility when dealing with others. This keeps us out of regretted-later anger,and having to get back on the narrow road of Christly loving.

Patrick Collins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick Collins said...

Thanks "poet" and Janet!! Being a hard headed Irish guy I have learned the hard way, still learning as a matter of fact, that anger hurts and is not productive. Sometimes when the fire bell of anger and indignation rings, I jump up like the old firehouse Dalmatian, but slowly I am learning that they are false alarms and to just lie back down, get a good bone and take another nap... tail wagging in contentment.

bert1929 said...

Great post Patrick. Had an incident recently when I could have lost it. While just sitting and looking out my back door, I noticed two individuals drinking something which looked like liquor. It is possible that they saw me watching them and reacted angrily by throwing the glass bottle upon my porch just missing the screened door. Immediately just a few words came to my thought"his statue with stones" I knew this could be found in Mis.p.224 in an article called Taking Offence. Constantine was told that a mob had broken the head of his statue with stones. The emperor lifted his hands to his head saying: "It is very surprising, but I don't feel hurt in the least." I got the message loud and clear. In this instance no answer turned away wrath!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pat, another great reminder on how we are to treat each other.

Melissa said...

Reminds me of one of Eddy's poems that explains the authority one gains by not being angry: O gentle presence, peace, and joy, and power!