Some thoughts about anger
HAVE you ever noticed that people sometimes speak as though they were proud of having displayed anger? It's almost as if they thought of anger as a virtue. There are theories that tell us it's not advisable to suppress our feelings--that it's bad for our mental and physical health to hold in our anger. So some feel justified in their angry outbursts. But losing control of ourselves can't bring genuine satisfaction; it can't really promote our well-being or progress. A person out of control will often say things he does not truly mean and will later regret. Some individuals feel deep grief over outbursts and long to know how to overcome the tendency to flare up.
The book of Proverbs tells us, ``He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.''1 And again in Proverbs we read, ``Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous.''2 Should we agree to live with something cruel in ourselves, something that can harm another? Yet people are sometimes fooled into imagining that anger indicates strength of character. The character that really needs cultivating is the pure Christliness, the untiring love, exemplified in the life of Christ Jesus.
Jesus advised us to turn the other cheek when wronged.3 In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy makes an important observation about the Master's preeminent spirituality: ``The notion that animal natures can possibly give force to character is too absurd for consideration, when we remember that through spiritual ascendency our Lord and Master healed the sick, raised the dead, and commanded even the winds and waves to obey him.''4 It's important to distinguish between our true selfhood, made in the likeness of our Maker, and the mortal personality that we usually think of as our identity. Through the prayer of desire to follow Jesus' example, we come to see that animal qualities have nothing to do with who we really are. Understanding that the real man--pure, entirely spiritual, and governed solely by the divine Mind--is your own true selfhood, you can be healed of the belief that loss of control is either necessary or desirable. You can find healing of the frustration, whatever its cause, that would kindle anger.
Sometimes we may feel strongly justified in our anger; it may be the result of some grave injustice or cruelty we have seen or heard of. Yet in one of her writings, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes anger as an animal characteristic: ``Appetites, passions, anger, revenge, subtlety, are the animal qualities of sinning mortals; and the beasts that have these propensities express the lower qualities of the so-called animal man; in other words, the nature and quality of mortal mind,--not immortal Mind.''5
Losing control of oneself and lashing out in blind rage will do nothing to correct a situation. What we need to do is look beyond the fury and its seeming cause and behold through prayer the orderly, just creation of the only true and loving God. This recognition of the constant presence of divine Love can do more to correct a cruel situation than all the angry outbursts in the world. By seeing the discord as illegitimate, as no part of the harmonious nature of God's universe, we can have a healing influence on any unjust circumstance.
When Moses witnessed the beating of a Hebrew slave, he reacted in wrath and killed the Egyptian who was inflicting the punishment. But later Moses was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel out of bondage to a life of greater freedom and progress. It is said in the Bible that ``the man Moses was very meek.''6 What great spiritual progress must have taken place for him to have cultivated the mighty meekness of a spiritually disciplined leader!
We can make a solid contribution to our own and others' well being each time we refrain from an angry word or action! The attainment of peace in the wider sphere of world events starts with the individual.
1Proverbs 16:32. 2Proverbs 27:4. 3See Matthew 5:39. 4Science and Health, p. 67. 5Miscellaneous Writings, p. 36. 6Numbers 12:3. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5