Anger is bad, right?
Yes, sort of, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Emotions, anger included, are good; in the sense that they’re part of being human. They’re “…the connection between the life of the senses and the life of the mind….” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1764)
She had reason on her side: as usual. I’m pretty much the opposite of phlegmatic.
But I don’t see much point in heeding cracked mirrors, or taking my cue from Yeats:
“…The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
The Lady of Shalott….”
(“The Lady of Shalott,” Tennyson (1842))
“…Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
“Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand….”
(“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats (1920))
Yeats, and quite a few other folks, were getting over the Great War. Since then we’ve survived another global war, McCarthyism, leisure suits, and disco. I’m not enjoying my country’s 2016 presidential election, but I’m pretty sure we’ll survive that, too.
Getting and staying angry about the nonsense getting flung by candidates, their supporters, and assorted pundits, would be a very bad idea.
“17 But I say to you, whoever is angry 18 with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”
“Raqa,” or “reqa,” probably meant something like “imbecile,” or “blockhead” in Aramaic. Either way, it’s offensive: the sort of insult that could lead to murder.
I’m pretty sure that Matthew 5:22 tells us that verbal abuse is a bad idea, and I shouldn’t do it. The other person might get angry enough to hurt me.
Bottom line — How I treat others matters. So does what I keep in my mind and heart.
Time for definitions — In English, a “passion” is a strong emotion; a state of strong sexual desire, or love; or boundless enthusiasm. (thefreedictionary.com)
“ANGER: An emotion which is not in itself wrong, but which, when it is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, becomes one of the seven capital sins. Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment (1765, 1866, 2262).”
Ideally, my emotions would line up with my reason.
“…since the sensitive appetite can obey reason, as stated above (Question , Article ), it belongs to the perfection of moral or human good, that the passions themselves also should be controlled by reason….”
(“The Summa Theologica,” First Part of the Second Part | Question: 24 | Article: 3, St. Thomas Aquinas)
(translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
I’m not all that close to “the perfection of moral or human good” — but I’m working on it.
I trust my feelings to let me know that something may be important. After that, it’s up to my reason to decide what’s happening and what — if anything — I should do.
Reason is part of being human, too. But because we have free will, thinking is an option: not a requirement. My experience has been that I’m better off if I think before I act. (Catechism, 1730, 1778, 1804, 2339)
I don’t think that feeling angry about some injustice is wrong. I’d be concerned if I didn’t feel something like that.
The flip side of despair is presumption, and that’s another topic. (Catechism, 2092)
Sometimes it just happens.
Like it says in Romans 12:19: “… ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ ” And that’s yet another topic.
Then there’s the notion that God has anger management issues. More topics.