The Many Faces of Anger


I thought I had the cap on the jug of citronella oil, but, in fact, it was just setting on jug, and it was not twisted on. After putting some oil in a patio torch, I put it back on the shelf in the garage. Well, almost. It slipped out of my hand, landing on its side, chugging oil onto my garage floor. Two expletives spewed out of my mouth, even faster than the oil poured out on the floor. It’s always two, always the same ones, and always in the same order. I was angry.

I have the same response when I smash my figure, get cut off by a stupid driver, and when the cord to my leaf blower gets hung up on something at the far end of the yard.

It’s just a normal, human reflexive response. It passes quickly. I don’t inwardly seethe about hammers, extension cords, common little accidents, or even stupid drivers.

A Bad Decision

If I kicked the errant jug of citronella oil across the garage floor, it would have made a bigger mess. That would have been a bad decision. If I threw the hammer, I might have something new to repair. (I have had this very thing happen.) If I flipped off that driver, it would have been terribly rude and offensive, and could lead to a physical confrontation.

The normal reflex can lead to a bad decision.

A Miserable Life

People can seethe about some personal injustice until the day they die, but they die miserable people, who make other people miserable. They are captive to their offender. Nobody likes hanging out with a bitter person.

When the offense is real, forgiveness is hard. But it s a decision we must make to free ourselves, and honor a God who has forgiven us.

A Destructive Force

We have been seeing a lot of anger in our nation. People are on edge. An offending driver gets shot. A tragic incident triggers a riot that results in more devastation.

People are looking at large groups of people as “what’s wrong with our country;” Muslims, white police officers, black protestors, Mexican immigrants, the wealthy. There is a lot of hate and anger being applied to whole swaths of humanity. 

Fear and anger leads to domestic violence, shootings, massive destruction of property, and even, war.

Too often, the knee-jerk reaction turns into a very bad decision that quickly spreads to thousands of people, and then, the tragedy turns into a catastrophe.

Anger becomes an excuse for hate and violence.

A Good Motivator

Yet, I am not sure anything in our society would ever be fixed without anger. 

Anger is a reaction to feeling like a victim of injustice, and that is, not necessarily, a bad thing, if it causes us to look beyond our own victimhood, to identify with others, and to do something about it.

We can get past the knee-jerk reaction, and reject our dark desires to make some bad emotionally based decisions, by opting to get on the solution side of things.

Unfortunately, I don’t see much of that happening. We seem to be hung up in the knee-jerk reaction stage.

One of the most courageous things a person could do in one of our troubled communities is to get a broad based group of the local stakeholders together to frame a conversation about all of the relevant factors involved, with a commitment to doing something about it.

These folks need to stay at it as long as it takes, and they need to eat lunch together. It’s a lot harder to hate groups of people when we know them as  individuals.

“Be angry and sin not.”


This post is part of a synchroblog on the theme of getting honest about anger. Here are the links to the other writers’ contributions.

Mark Votava – Becoming Dreamers Again
Carol Kuniholm – God’s Economy: Managing Anger Assets
Clara Ogwuazor Mbamalu – The Easiest Way to Control and Manage Anger
K.W. Leslie – Anger
Paul Meier – The Value of Anger
Pastor Fedex – Chain Reaction
Jeremy Myers – You Sound Angry, Bitter, and Critical
Michael Boden – Anger is Not a Godly Emotion
Kathy Escobar – underneath anger.


About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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