Angry, Angry, Angry

Last night I could not sleep. After trying all the usual remedies — praying, reading, listening to the World Service — I tried checking my Facebook account. I wish I hadn’t. I’m not sure how the algorithms work, but the people popping up on my newsfeed had a great deal to say about other people, none of it complimentary. Indeed, after reading several ill-informed rants, I was myself quite angry — all the more so since many of the people I was reading thought (incorrectly) that they were defending Catholic teaching or advancing the cause of true religion.

I know enough about my own anger, especially when it is pumped up by prednisolone, to realise how easy it is to allow a momentary feeling of annoyance to become something much more serious. Online expressions of anger can become deeply disturbing. Think of the effects of trolling, for example, or the rape and death threats many women have to endure. The anger probably didn’t start like that, but it has become deadly, out of control. Pope Francis has registered how dangerous it is and in Gaudete et Exsultate has said something very sensible and clear:

Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. (Gaudete et Exsultate 115)

Most of us are very contrite when we know we have been offensive, but if we make a habit of lashing out, particularly if we kid ourselves that we are doing so in a good cause, we become insensitive. Our anger takes over. Cassian had many wise things to say about controlling anger and one I find helpful is his recommendation that we should try to be so big-hearted that the waves of anger break on a shore of love that is wide and calm. A shore of love that is wide and calm sounds much more attractive than a seething pot of vitriol, doesn’t it? Perhaps we could all try being big-hearted today.

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13 thoughts on “Angry, Angry, Angry”

  1. I wonder how people survive with so much anger?

    I find it best to take a deep breath, stand back and ponder on why someone is being so angry, about anything? and than bit my lip and not respond.

    Sometimes I worry that my posts on social media appear to be angry, so, tone them down before posting. Venting spleen isn’t helpful and provokes others to do the same.

    Sensible debate is far better, if people allow you to without heat, but with sincerity.

    • I agree about the need for sensible debate . . but then I catch myself being unreasonably angry, too. It is, as Cassian identified, one of the major problems in life, learning how to deal with one’s own anger.

  2. Thank you. The vision of a seashore of love is wonderful,… even with fierce waves breaking on the shore. Amen. Alleluia.

  3. If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all ( Thumper in Disney’s film ‘Bambi’) sleep better tonight, keep off the internet!

  4. I spent two hours last week listening to a very angry prisoner obsessed with a perceived past injustice, trying to make him see that the person he was angry with is, in effect, taking over and ruining the rest of his life. It reminded of the mother of a boy killed by the Moors Murderers, who never managed to let go of her anger. The murderers not only killed her son but effectively tortured her for the rest of her days. Very sad.

  5. Anger eats away at one, too. I have found it helpful to write it out of my system, using pen and paper. Never to be sent or shown of course. But one then has the opportunity to leave it to one side for a bit, until the rage has calmed down. It may be, on re-reading one’s outpourings, that one either feels ashamed of oneself or can just tear it up and throw it out. But it lances the boil.

  6. I feel so sorrowful, for my people. They are not aware of the goings on in the Church. And concern themselves with lives daily tasks so much, it actually controls their lives. Please, pray for them, and pray for me. That the Lord keeps me humble. Because i do not know as much as i think i do. Thank you. God Bless.

  7. My own anger is far more dispiriting and pulls me down far more than that of others. Of course I know what I should do with it, have enough awareness to identify where it’s coming from, but doing it’s another thing…

  8. A new form of ANGER is ROAD RAGE, yesterday I was driving through a roundabout, a guy sped up & blasted his car horn, yelling, shaking his fist, scarred the hell out of me (pun intended, I jumped, heart rate was up), totally unnecessary. Just sped up & got out of the roundabout. Mate, (seems a male dominated problem so far) do you really need some time at a retreat.

  9. Of course, it’s true that there is such a thing as healthy anger, such as when Our Lord was angry at the synagogue congregation’s hard-heartedness about healing on the Sabbath. There are some things in the world that jolly well SHOULD make us angry, such as cruelty to children. That said: we must never use this as an excuse for our own lack of self-control. I’m sure most of the things that get me hot under the collar aren’t anything like as important as I think they are at the time.

  10. ‘A shore of love which is calm and wide…’ is such a wonderful concept. Love for one’s fellow human beings has always been and continues to be the answer to all the world’s problems. Translating that love into positive and effective action is often the great conundrum which should not be ignored.

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