Is it bad to get angry? Contrary to what I was taught, no, it is not. It is not bad to let your anger control you? Yes.
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Ephesians 4:26)
Anger is a natural response to being threatened in some way. What we do with the response can be very destructive or very noble.
If I have a fight with my wife and I lash out with a knee-jerk, hurtful reaction; that is destructive. If, on the other hand, I calmly express my perspective in a way that does not assault her character and think further about the matter when I have had a little time to settle down, that is good. Perhaps, I would see an error in my ways that I would admit to her. Or, perhaps there is a concern that is important enough to broach again at a better time. That is a positive response.
The negative side of anger has received a lot of attention, but the positive side has been neglected. Frustration and even, anger is the mother of invention. I know that it is more commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, but I think it is our frustration and anger that leads us to the point that we believe something new is necessary.
The key is for our angry frustration to trigger a commitment to do something about that thing that upsets us and hence, get on the solution side of the issue.
Should we be angry about child abuse? Should we be angry about ethnic cleansing? Should we be angry about religious terrorism? Should we be angry people starving to death and dying of easily preventable diseases? Should we be angry about our high rate or unemployment and underemployment? Should we be angry about corrupt governments?
There are a host of things that really should stir us up. Unfortunately, the enormity of the issues can leave us feeling helpless. Compassion fatigue from constant exposure to these injustices through our media can leave us feeling numb. Being personally untouched by these injustices allows us to be happily ignorant of them and being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of daily life can leave with little time or energy to even begin to think about these things.
Not everybody is equally moved by every injustice, but there is something that gets to each of us. Once our anger ferments just long enough, a lovely wine of action, involvement, and a solution orientation can emerge.
There is something that you should be angry about. What is it? What are you going to do about it?
Originally posted October 26, 2011.