There’s this very famous religious leader who is known for losing his temper and exploding in anger in his sermons toward those he believes to be slackers and questioners of his religion.
Usually, after one of his sermons the internet is on fire with pros and cons about his outbursts. Some justify his anger by quoting scriptural accounts of Jesus becoming angry.
I have my own thoughts on the subject. Here are five.
1. I have never, to my knowledge, accomplished anything positive in my life by becoming angry. I’ve gotten angry plenty of times. Most every time, maybe every time, I regretted the consequences of my outbursts.
2. Consciously using anger as a strategy only works so often, if at all, in getting people to do what you want. I once decided to use anger to get a group of people I supervised to work harder. It worked for a brief while, but quickly behavior reverts back to where it was before I got mad. Temporary flare ups, even used in a calculated manner, only bring about temporary gains.
3. Anger caused by being hurt is understandable and justified. Anger may even be a necessary phase to release emotional distress. I believe there are tragedies which warrant anger. If I were a parent of one of the elementary school students who was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I would be devastated, and I would be angry. But, I know if that anger didn’t lead to some positive outlet, it would eventually make me chronically ill. For example, for me, using artistic outlets to work out of my inward hurt and anger has had a healing effect on me. Personally, I write in order to release those feelings caused in some of my formative years.
4. Using anger to enact vengeance deconstructs our personalities. Seeking revenge may be the stuff of movie lore, but in the end causes us to lose what makes us human – our individual consciences. Purposely inflicting punishment on someone who has in some way wronged us, no matter how subtle that punishment may be, develops behavior which over time begins to rob us of the ability to sympathize and empathize with others. Rather than exercising vengeance, I’ve learned to walk away, and let time work to my advantage, both for getting greater understanding and for letting nature do its work. Life has too much irony built into it for me to need to use revenge to balance the scales of justice.
5. If you are the consistent victim of anger, you must learn to employ strong defenses. For example report acts of violence you’ve experienced to police. I once had a ninth grade student, who was in my religion class when I was a high school teacher, call me one Sunday afternoon and say he had run away from home and was scared to return. I went and picked the boy up, and took him to his home. As he opened the front door of the car to get out, his father and college age brother jolted out of the house and started beating him. I intervened and stopped the brutality. I reported the incident to the police. The police took action against the father. One must know defensive options available to them at all times.
In conclusion, anger even when employed by Jesus, doesn’t accomplish anything good. I doubt Jesus really got angry. I think that has been inserted by some scribe centuries later. As for the religious leader’s use of anger from the pulpit, I think he does that for effect. If he really were actually angry, I don’t think people would come to listen. After all, who would listen to a person who would demean and brutalize people in public?