by Michael Mamas
Let’s coin a term, “irrational anger.”
You might quite reasonably respond, “Is anger ever rational?” So, let’s define rational anger as: Anger that exists when you are clear on all the relevant facts. This does not mean that because you have all the facts, your anger is justifiable. However, there is at least a valid rationale supporting it.
Irrational anger is anger not supported by the whole picture – all the relevant facts. The alleged facts are invalid, or there are other relevant facts that you are not aware of or have chosen to ignore.
To my experience, this is by far a more common type of anger. With partial, biased, or totally inaccurate knowledge, you make a decision about something, get angry, and are incapable of looking deeper. You have heard enough and do not want to be confused with additional facts or corrections of inaccuracies.
A red flag that you do not want to hear or are ignoring the facts is when, in your mind, you conclude that people, known to be honorable, are lying or spinning the truth.
There is another important point here. Your First Response is your initial reaction/response to something. It is important to develop the ability to create a wiser Second Response. In the case of irrational anger, you may hold onto the First Response with great dedication, while steam-rolling your way through whatever additional facts and perspectives that may come up.
You may then insist that your anger is now a Second Response. Not so! A healthy Second Response is not steamrolling. In fact, in association with the First and Second Response, let’s coin another term: “steamrolling.” You would do well to ask yourself if you are steamrolling.
I have often associated success in life with the image on the 1793 large cent of Lady Liberty. She is facing forward with dedication and purity of heart, while her hair blows in the wind. That wind is, more often than not, irrational anger stirred up by anyone who is accomplishing great things in life.
From Gandhi to George Washington, irrational anger is the wind in their faces. Just drive down the street. Look at any building, farm, or banner, and know that the wind in the face of that accomplishment was, at least in significant part, irrational anger. Does that mean that all opposition is irrational? No, of course not. However, it is irrational most of the time. Never is any great thing, not faced with irrational anger.
Irrational anger is exhausting. The only way to deal with it is to keep moving and give those who are angry time to come around.
Rational anger, which is rarer, at least lends itself to the cultivation of a healthy Second Response.
Once someone goes down the path of irrational anger, it is often very difficult to correct it.
For most, it is just too humiliating to admit they were wrong. They prefer to defend the stance they took, even when it has been proven wrong.
It is the rare person who can stand up straight, apologize, and move forward. In actuality, those who can, need not be humiliated. In fact, they should be honored for their strength of character and maturity.
I do not measure the merit of a person by whether or not he ever goes out of balance. Everyone does. If merit is to be measured, then do so by observing if and how fast that person can come back into balance and correct any mistakes.
Now you are faced with a life-determining question, “Are you willing to face the wind?” Are you willing to have the torrential winds of irrational anger come your way, and still move forward with dedication and purity of heart? If not, your life will be blown in the wind like a tumbleweed, and at the end of your life, you will have little to show for it.
Don’t forget this is Kali Yuga, the age of ignorance. Ignorance means ignoring. “To ignore” is the stuff steamrolling and irrational anger are made of. Irrational anger is the most destructive sin of this age.
Remember Gandhi’s words, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
© Michael Mamas, 10/11