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“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” — Mark Twain
People who are angry in these times feel justified in their fury. The world seems out of control, while scientists and doctors expound on the devastating impact of a perplexing virus. We, however, want someone, anyone, to be able to explain everything, right now, in a way that makes sense and can be digested by all of us.
When the “authorities” give us information with certainty, we are angry with them because we simply don’t believe them. When they share their views with qualifiers, we are angry because we want certainty. And we want to blame someone, anyone for the lack of complete understanding of what is happening, and a sensible strategy for moving forward.
Since we are told essentially that only “intelligent guesses” can be made, that the data is incomplete, that other countries are lying to us, we are enraged. Is there no one we can believe?
The truth is that most of us despise uncertainty; it terrifies us. Rather than be terrified and feel helpless, we would much rather feel powerful and in charge. That is a benefit of anger: no matter how faulty our experience is, anger makes us feel powerful and in control.
But there is a serious downside to anger: it eats us alive. It devours our clarity, destroys our perspective and damages our well-being. Soon, there is nothing but the anger that remains.
What to do? In one sense, anger can be righteous. We have good reason to be angry with the Chinese. We are angry to see so many lives lost, perhaps unnecessarily. And the economy is tanking. But while we can recognize and even appreciate our anger, we can’t let it work on our souls to the point where only the anger is left. At some point, we need to allow the anger to burn itself out, at least to a degree. We must balance the anger with reminders that we are alive and healthy. That we have love and blessings in our lives. We must try to transform our outrage into curiosity, and our stress into gratitude. We must be as active and creative as we can possibly be.
We must take charge by letting the anger go.Published in