Identifying the roots of anger

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, May 5, 2015

By Marv Repinski

Retired Untied Methodist minister

Writing on this topic is daring myself to enter a territory that hopefully, will prompt an ongoing discussion.  Reflection by others is needed on an area of our society that requires, I believe, primary attention.  Hopefully, other persons who are related by vocation, the experience of hurt from others, and a pledge to foster journeys of peace, will also consider writing. Addressing this topic in print in the Austin Daily Herald will, I feel, be deemed important. This paper directs its focus on numerous areas of our lives that enhance our ability to live as a wholesome community.

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The roots of anger is such a vital topic and so very necessary to create dialogue, that I encourage your thoughtfulness on some aspects that are with us every day.  Seemingly, more pain, upset, revenge, warfare, outrage, bullying, persecution, road rage, suffering, and dislocation is present in our world than ever before.

My assessment of the sources of pain, the roots, are many, and identifying a few may expand your own thinking. But with this purpose: can we do anything about it?

One: Anger is resourced and propelled as a way for human beings in given situations to even the odds. Angry responses may be the hurried manner of getting even.  We observe something like “I didn’t get mine — I’ll show you!”

Two: We have many expressions in identifying what is most often, from the gut, termed “flying off the handle,” “punch him in the nose,” “kicking butt,” or just saying to your friend, “She’s asking for it. I’ll show her!”

Three: A root of anger — and there are so many — may be the long-held behavioral expressions that indicate beliefs that may not even be on the surface. Persons may feel, over many years, that they have been deserted, deprived of much that is necessary for a stable life. Add to that the cursing you may have heard when someone said, “I was cut out of the will,” and a person who feels left out of a promotion process may need a bountiful grace to still love the company.

Four: May a subtle, but ever present anger have roots in the kind of culture or society that we live in? I’m referring to the intense, pointed, tempting world of advertising.  The implication is aimed at a multitude of hungers, appetites, desire and all manners of ways to improve ourselves. What does being a candidate for the advertisement do to you? What is the product being placed before you saying to you? Fill in the blank.

I apply my idea of anger having roots and some can be identified.  An unhappy person or a person who feels left out is possibly a candidate for expressions of anger.  I believe I’ve been around the block enough times to have some common sense and that leads me to say “please, don’t get into fighting the advertisements.”  My suggestion is aimed at maturity. It’s in part, saying you may never have all those goods and services. We may agree, many in the larger picture are necessary.  Is there a deep well that is in each person that unless we sufficiently balance our journey, we will feel left out? Does not having some things create jealousy? Is the conviction that we have been “left out” result in attacking “the system”?

The above experiences — maybe not all at a conscious level — may be some of those roots that feed the angers we certainly wish to banish.

I repeat. I’m sure the Herald would welcome an expansion of thinking on this very worldwide destructive manner of behavior in the human family.  Anger hurts both the one who expresses it and the one (and it may be a whole nation) to which it is directed.

Each of us can have a goal to be more mellow.  Each of us can be a part of a community to join hands in peace.

Casting my mind on all these reversals and woundedness of life spun out of the thoughts about anger, I need other realities.  One, I turn to my Bible, the Old Testament book of Psalms, and let voices speak of a Holy Presence that while acknowledging hurt of both the creation and human beings, points to a healing.

And I can allow the novelist Ernest Hemingway to speak again with his perfectly constructed sentences. Again, a novel will be read, and the lives of persons broken and estranged will experience love, forgiveness and hope.

The political satirist/comedian Mark Russell has said: “The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage.” I offer an invitation: I suggest that globs of anger and the rattled thoughts of revenge be gathered and placed in Mr. Russell’s luggage. Now say “goodbye!”

My reflections on this topic may continue.