I drove to Dallas yesterday to pick up a friend out of prison after her nine month stint. Funny part of the conversation: I asked her if she was going to panhandle anymore, and she said, "No, the work is just too hard!"
She definitely does not want to go back to prison. One of her comments: there are a lot of angry people in there! Granted, she doesn't, uh, exactly have her whole act together but it was really sad listening to her talk about many of the very young women in prison who seem to be full of hatred and emotionally charged, a number of whom are in jail for battery and assault.
Why the anger? Where does it come from? How do we get so emotionally revved up that we take it out on other people? Maybe for many of us, we don't resort to physical violence, but verbal abuse and emotional daggers are pretty common.
My best guess is that we have wired into our heads some system of "fairness". The world is supposed to work in such a way that I and the people that I care about should get treated or have certain things and when that doesn't happen, my internal "no you di-uhnt" threshold is hit (my own version of pop-psychology).
For example, I believe that drivers should let other cars into a line if they make signals, such as a blinking light and wave, to make it clear that they need to be in your lane. When the other driver acts like she hasn't seen me, keeps her head straight, and then pulls up so tight to the car in front of her like she's stalking the other car, that anger thermometer in my head sets off alarms and hormones and all of a sudden I want to rip the cell phone out of hand and throw it on the highway. But that is just a for-instance.
Everyone that I know has this anger scale so that when it reaches that threshold weight, something breaks. We get angry with the source of that weight, or stress, whether it is people, a system, or even God.
Can I suggest something? Maybe our anger should start with God. The scriptures are filled with people upset with God, especially the Psalms, and He can take it. You aren't going to break Him, as you might someone else who may or may not deserve the brunt of the anger.
Once we've used up our emotional outpouring towards God, then we can think about the real source of our anger, how our sense of balance on our personal anger scale is set, and what we can constructively do about it.
Can this be done without a community? I doubt it. How often do we see people lose control in their lives because they have become isolated?
So fess up, ye quiet masses, on what you do about anger and how you adjust the scales.
Friday, April 20, 2007
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