Getting angry shows you're not in control
Highlands TodayFor a laugh about "no laughing matter," watch the 2003 movie "Anger Management." Or, for real-life lessons in what not to do, we can observe the recent antics of Senators John McCain and Jim Bunning. They need timeout to ponder an old adage: "Who or what angers you controls you."
Published: March 4, 2010
Published: March 4, 2010
Horace, an ancient Roman poet, called anger a "momentary insanity." With red cheeks and ugly grimaces, McCain used last week's healthcare meetings to air past grievances. He wasted time and credibility. Bunning, condemning thousands of workers to no pay by blocking passage of a bill, highhandedly refused media questions in a heated elevator exchange, complete with obscene gesture. The past status of McCain as war hero and Bunning as Hall of Fame pitcher cannot cover childish temper.
Both senators consider their points vital to America's health and economy. A moment's lapse in judgment shook their influence. Scientists know the Chile earthquake knocked the earth off its figure axis (balance) by about three inches, shortening the days by milliseconds. Taking nothing for granted, they call small changes "momentous."
America is shaking. We are off-axis, lacking righteous indignation while overflowing with wasted outrage. Misdirected fury falls for silly advice, and there are plenty of examples. Though Swedish researchers announced in Nov. 2009 that quenched work anger is unhealthy, following their venting plan can get us fired. What they disdain
as "covert coping" puts food on the table, and that's healthy; being thankful and eating it, priceless. Most of us are neither so thin nor fat that we need to join the announced battle (Oct. 2009) of a German magazine to swap thin models for real women, a move that "should not be understood as a declaration of war on the modeling profession." We real women are too busy covertly coping with bigger things.
It wasn't courage prompting Rep. Joe Wilson to yell, "You lie," during President Obama's speech in Sept. 2009. It was what Robert Ingersoll, 19th c. political leader, labeled, "a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind," the wind of anger. A Feb. 2010 New York Times' blurb informs us that singing Sinatra's "My Way" in a Philippines' karaoke bar prompts murderous rage. No one knows why. The resulting deaths have been dubbed the "My Way Killings." Perhaps "my way" isn't always best.
The biblical admonition, "Be ye angry and sin not" (Ephesians 4:26), is intended to be a lifesaver. Fruitful passion finds the right outlet, positive zeal. In the classic, 18th c. work, "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," Edward Gibbons gave five major causes for Rome's demise: family breakdown and increase of divorce; rise of taxes and extravagant spending; desire for pleasure and brutalization of sports; increasing armaments to face threats of enemy attacks; decay of religion into confusing forms. Confusion kills change. We need people of measured temperament.
No genius is needed to spot parallels with us. However, only fired-up maturity, not ego, not huff, can lead us out.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.