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My life’s mission is to rid my soul of anger’s tentacles. It makes people stupid. The decisions that come from anger knock down the domino that becomes the catalyst for other bad decisions. Yet, in reading C.S. Lewis Reflections of the Psalms, he writes:
“In the same way we cannot be certain that the comparative absence of vindictiveness in the Pagans, though certainly a good thing in itself, is a good symptom. This was borne in upon me during night journey taken early in the Second War in a compartment full of young soldiers. Their conversation made it clear that they totally disbelieved all that they had read in the papers about wholesale cruelties of the Nazi regime. They took it for granted, without argument, that this was all lies, all propaganda put out by our own government to “pep up” our troops. And the shattering thing was, that, believing this, they expressed not the slightest anger. That our rulers should falsely attribute the worst of crimes to some of their fellow-men in order to induce others of their fellow-men to shed their blood seemed to them a matter of course. They weren’t even particularly interested. They saw nothing wrong in it. Now it seemed to me that the most violent of Psalmists—or, for that matter any child wailing out “But it’s not fair”—was in a more hopeful condition than these young men. If they had perceived, and felt as a man should feel, the diabolical wickedness which they believed our rulers to be committing, and then forgiven them, they would have been saints. But not to perceive it at all—not even to be tempted to resentment—to accept it as the most ordinary thing in the world—argues a terrifyingly insensibility. Clearly these young men had (on that subject anyway) no conception of good and evil whatsoever. Thus, the absence of anger, especially that sort of anger which we call indignation, can, in my opinion, be a most alarming symptom.”
The absence of anger is apathy. I wondered at the apathy in the 2008 elections. I wondered at the apathy of people when wrong is happening and they choose instead to keep their face averted. The absence of anger towards the lack of justice and accountability in our world is deeply disturbing, and it’s tearing a part the fabric of our country. Consequences are important. It’s likened to the spanking or punishment our parents gave us that helped to teach us what we were doing was wrong. Without consequences and with enabling, the person notes subconsciously the absence of anger as the absence of love. They continue to make those same mistakes because his prior mistakes went unpunished. Spare the rod; spoil the child in Proverbs comes to mind. “Clearly,” C.S. Lewis reminds us. “These young men had (on that subject anyway) no conception of good and evil whatsoever.”
Not all anger is good. Some anger is cruel. The anger that leads a person to either physically or verbally abuse someone else is the kind of anger I do not wish in my life. The anger born of disappointment should vacate my life. If I get angry, it’s okay if that anger is over injustice. But in the same token, C.S. Lewis writes, “For the Supernatural, entering a human soul, opens to it new possibilities both of good and evil. From that point the road branches: one way to sanctity, love, humility, the other to spiritual pride, self-righteousness, persecuting zeal.”
Is our anger just? Or is it out of control and unreasonable? Do we have control over our emotions or do our emotions control us? And what does the Bible say about it?