Assorted versions of this quote popped up in my social media feed recently. Usually as a picture of St. Thomas Aquinas with a text overlay.
“He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.”
(attr. Thomas Aquinas; via Master_Bruno_1084 on Reddit)
Those four sentences may be a translation of something St. Thomas Aquinas wrote.
Or maybe they’re a summary of what he wrote in “Summa Theologica,” First Part of the Second Part, questions 46 through 48 and Second Part of the Second Part, question 158.1
And maybe what Yogi Berra said applies in this case.
“I really didn’t say everything I said. […] Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know.”
(Yogi Berra, “The Yogi book: I really didn’t say everything I said!,” p. 9 (1997) via WikiQuote)
In any case, jotting down what I think about anger, justice and making sense is easier than discussing today’s readings. Particularly if I went into what Genesis 2:18–25 and Mark 7:24–30 say about human nature, priorities, faith and all that.
Hmm. I’ve been saying “all that” a lot lately. Moving on.
Virtue signalling, displaying outrage with intent to impress, is a new term.
But I’m pretty sure that folks were expressing (self?) righteous outrage at their era’s fascists, communists, racists and long-haired freaks long before Mesannepada launched Ur’s first dynasty.
Mesannepada means “youngling chosen by An.” The name, or maybe title, was more impressive when most folks knew about An. Or Anu, as Akkadians called their top-rank god.2 And that’s another topic.
But I don’t see a point in composing screed aimed at vile malefactors.
Or swearing unswerving loyalty to some politico or party.
I also felt an impulse to despise pretty much all the congressional clowns, regardless of party or position. I don’t think that’s a good idea. In fact, I think it’s a bad idea. Bad for me, that is.
“But I say to you, whoever is angry 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.”
On the other hand, I’d be worried if I didn’t feel angry at what I see as injustices.
The trick is remembering that I’m human, and able to think. Letting my emotions show me that something needs attention is one thing. Letting them decide what I do is a bad idea. I’ve said this before. Often. (February 4, 2021; January 11, 2017; October 5, 2016)
But I see no point in adding another outraged voice to my culture’s current scream-fests.
Seriously. How many folks would really want more of the sound and fury that passes for public discussion these days?
And, for that matter, in days of yore.
Take that discussion I talked about yesterday, for example. The one about wine that lasted three days and killed more than 90 folks in Oxford.
Which is why I’ll occasionally explain why I think currently-accepted actions are bad ideas. And why feelings can be okay, and thinking is a good idea.
But will keep trying to dial back my rage:
- “Another Saint, a Riot and Mark 7:15”
(February 10, 2021)
- “Emotions, Options, Faith and Making Sense”
(February 4, 2021)
- “Executed: Daniel Lewis Lee”
(July 14, 2020)
- “A High Standard”
(March 18, 2019)
- “Apathy, Angst and Grenfell Tower”
(June 13, 2018)
- “Summa Theologica,” St. Thomas Aquinas, via New Advent
- First Part of the Second Part
- Second Part of the Second Part