Enraged. Outraged. Offended. Seething in anger.
We've all seen these negative-emotion descriptors in the headlines and copy of online media stories, as well as in newspapers and magazines of all sizes and subscription bases. Perhaps a year of quarantining has given us more time to read and notice how increasingly mad we have become as a nation, or maybe just additional time to become keyboard warriors ourselves and vent, with the emphasis on “war” as the root verb.
And it's not just on our laptops, desktops, phones and other devices. Many of us have trouble driving around town and keeping our inner peace when someone else doesn't move fast enough at a four-way stop or cuts us off in traffic. It reminds me of the late comedian George Carlin, who wryly quipped that anyone who drives slower than us is a moron, and those who drive faster than we do are idiots.
Of course, there are many other aspects of modern life that can make us angry — the jobs we have to take to make a living, those fellow employees or superiors in the workplace, relatives, politics, etc., the list could go on and on. However, there's a downside to continually being mad. Consider these health problems associated with anger, provided by the Better Health Channel website out of Australia:
“The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that go with ongoing unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short- and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include: headache, digestion problems (including abdominal pain), insomnia, increased anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems (including eczema), heart attack and stroke.”
Perhaps high blood pressure should have been first on the list, since we can feel it go up as uncontrolled anger rears its ugly head.
Dr. Mark Rutland, who once spoke at the Moving the Mountains Youth Rally in Ellijay around three decades ago, trains business and ministry leaders and also operates a global ministry. He states in a current article titled "The Church in an Angry World" (charismamag.com), “We live in an angry culture. Some are angry at the Democrats or the Republicans or the COVID-19 virus. It seems as though America has become one huge incident of road rage just waiting to explode.”
Rutland noted of a businessman he counseled, “At first he 'had' the anger. After some time the anger had him.” How we come to have our wrath and rage issues may be complex, and I would certainly not want to step on the toes of any behaviorists or psychologists. However, there could be ways to address what was referred to as our “bile” in the Dark Ages without spending thousands of dollars in a clinic.
Amy Carmichael, a missionary whose work spanned two centuries and who served in India for 55 years without a furlough, once wrote she had a simple approach to issues that might cause anger. In her case, the fuse could be the rigid and pitiless caste system ruling the subcontinent, the prostituting of young girls to support priests in Hindu temple worship or deplorable working conditions in the slums. If she felt anger arising, she would pray simply, “Thy peace, Lord.” If an understanding spirit was needed in the face of obstinance or intransigence from the authorities, she would ask, “Thy sweetness, Lord.”
Perhaps we have an anger issue in our family line, or just feel like we've haven't gotten what we deserve in life and become easily offended. For whatever reason, anger is a controllable emotion.
Just a few days ago, we had family over to our Ellijay home on Christmas Eve. Some of the younger boys had never really played together. When Rocco (age 2-1/2) was told his youngest cousin's name was Nash (almost 2), he heard “Mash” — as in “mashed potatoes.” So he kept calling Nash “Potato.” Yet Nash did not become offended or yell at Rocco to call him by his real name. They just kept chasing each other down the hallway and laughing when they jumped up onto a bed.
Wow, thought I. A misunderstanding actually turned into something that mattered nothing to the kids, and made the adults in the room laugh, despite our attempts at correction. Several decades ago, I walked into an elementary school gym and saw these 10 two-letter words emblazoned on a wall: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” I get it. It was an attempt in a public, secular school to try and get kids to be responsible and accountable for their futures. But as adults, it's OK to drop the anger, the offense — and the pride — and say, “Lord, I need help with this.”
Enraged, outraged. C'mon, adults in the room, isn't it time we all acted of age?
Mark Millican is a former staff writer for the Daily Citizen-News.