Spiritual Matters: The anger epidemic can be countered by love
IT’S an epidemic. No, I’m not referring to drugs – though epidemic is a word that most accurately describes this blight upon our society. I’m thinking now about anger. There appears to be a simmering cauldron of latent anger in so many people in our nation today. It appears to erupt with little warning according to eyewitness accounts of the chaotic scenes of mayhem in some of our capital cities. In truth though, it takes little more than a light scratch to reveal that below the surface, alcohol and the aforementioned drugs are the principal catalysts to the terrible scenes of brawling in our streets.
Then there’s the anathema of domestic violence – the veritable iceberg within society where just the tiniest fraction of the problem is revealed.
Awful. Just awful.
And why? Why is seething resentment bubbling away just below the surface of so many people’s lives – young, and not-so-young?
An author for the Reader’s Digest once studied the small community of intensely religious Amish people in America in preparation for an article he was writing. His investigation took him to a local school where a number of Amish children were enrolled. After observing these children playing in the playground during breaks, he was struck by the fact that the Amish children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He made an appointment to speak to the school Principal and remarked that he’d not once heard an Amish child raise his voice in anger. He asked the Principal why he thought that was so. His reply? “Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?”
The penny dropped. The message was clear. Anger is contagious.
The point is illustrated even more graphically when one recalls how, in the spring of 1894, a routine baseball game between Baltimore and Boston teams degenerated into an anger-fuelled riot. Baltimore’s John McGraw began a fight with a Boston player. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and soon the entire complex of buildings burned to the ground. But the fire also spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.
Domestic violence; road rage; coward punches; fights staged and filmed for social-media consumption. All point to a massive disquiet within the modern human spirit.
I believe part of the reason for this is our rejection of much of the teachings of Jesus. This weekend churches across the world are remembering the events of Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the Holy City – knowing full well that it was dangerous to do so. The religious elite were baying for his blood. He’d questioned their power-base and their self-interest. They were out for revenge.
And Jesus? He remained calm and serene through the worst that human beings could throw at him. Indeed, he was to give his torturers and executioners the benefit of the doubt – praying from the cross for his Heavenly Father to forgive them for their blind ignorance.
Our nation needs to embrace His example of love in the face of evil. It’s an impressive response.