Friday, October 02, 2009

The Wrath of Man

"Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4).

Anger. It is possibly the single most recognizable human emotion on the planet. There is no doubt when someone is angry. Other emotions can be misread -- like happiness, for example. A happy person may laugh or cry, even at the same time. So we might wonder if they are glad or sad.

But anger is never vague. It has a brooding presence and an defining scowl, a look in the eye that sends daggers across a room; it is the quiet before the storm, the tremor before the quake, the smoke before the volcanic eruption.

What most of us do not realize is that anger is a symptom of something deeper; there is a reason that a person gets angry.

So, where does anger come from?

Anger comes from one or more of these five factors -- hurt, fear, guilt, shame, and injustice.

When an person experiences pain they often react in such a way as to appear angry. Take for example a man hitting his thumb with a hammer. His immediate reaction will be explosive. Or accidentally brush against another person's wounded arm, and there will be an immediate self-defensive reaction packed in a brief flash of anger. The same happens when you brush against their wounded heart, or unwittingly stir some painful memory.

Fear also causes a person to feel anger. Back any man or woman into a corner, making them to feel trapped and threatened -- and you will see anger rise to fever pitch. It's part of our survival instinct. Like when George McFly knocked out Biff the Bully for messing with Loraine. Wham!

Guilt and shame each do their part as well in bringing anger to the surface, for a person can only bear these two destructive forces so long. Guilt has to do with you have done against others, and shame has to do with what has been done against you. Both feelings can cause anger to surface at any moment; especially when the situation seems too familiar with what caused the person to feel guilt and shame in the first place.

Finally we come to Injustice. When we see a wrong being done against another, who is defenseless -- an anger rises and compels us to act against those who are doing the wrong.

We will talk more along these lines tomorrow.

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