Anger Spells Danger
We need to disengage with what makes us angry so that we can reengage with the love of God.
Many moons ago, long before my reception into the Catholic Church, I was a very angry young man. I believed that the world was in a mess and that my own country was in even more of a mess than the rest of the world. As a hot-headed patriot, I decided that it was my duty to fight for my country. I was animated by an unhealthy psychological cocktail of angst and anger, my animation being driven by an animus against those whom I considered to be my country’s enemies. The angst and anger had metamorphosed all too easily and readily into hatred of my neighbor.
By the grace of God and by the reading of good books by good men, such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, I found my way falteringly towards Christian belief and the Catholic Church. I was received into the Church when I was 28 years old, having misspent my youth in the daze and haze of anger-driven animosity.
By the grace of God and by his healing hand, I no longer hate my neighbors, not even those of my neighbors who hate me and the Church. I am very aware, however, of the danger of allowing myself to become angry with the ways of the world and by the waywardness of those who are the champions of the world’s wickedness. It is all too easy to give way to feelings of “righteous” anger and it is all too easy to allow such anger to compromise our love for neighbor, a love which is not an option for the Christian but a commandment.
I am reminded of the words of Johnny Rotten of the infamous punk rock band, the Sex Pistols, who boasted that “anger is an energy.” It is indeed an energy but energy is not always necessarily good. Anger was the energy which animated the Nazis and the Communists who killed millions of people in the last century. If we allow our anger to energize us, we lose the peace of mind which allows us to make peace with our God and neighbor.
If we find that the news media or social media are making us angry, it is time to take time out. We need to disengage with what makes us angry so that we can reengage with the love of God.
This essay was first appeared in Aleteia and is republished with permission.