In the Prison of Anger
One of the folks here in my neighborhood went to jail recently.
The tale is long and complicated, and I know only half the story, if that much. The woman in question has had a difficult life, to say the least, but I’m quite certain at least a part of it has been her own broken choices. That’s because more than once I’ve observed evidence of uncontrollable rage. I recognize the demons I’ve chased out of my own soul. (Game note: She looks hot, but puts up a good front. Not particularly seductive, but tries to hide it for all sorts of reasons, which amounts to manipulation. Beauty can be very deceptive, as this one is dangerously close to psychotic. Learn the signs.)
While whole books have been written on anger as a human emotion, I’ll offer a good starting point. James Altucher discussed in a recent article how to break free from prisons of your own making. While the rest of the article is almost useless to me, he discusses things to which he needs to pay attention in order to defeat their power over him.
- when am I angry. Not to suppress it. Just to notice it. Not to act on it. Not to kill someone. Just to notice it. When is it happening? Why? It’s a hot plate that cools under observation rather than if I try to ravish it too quickly.
If you don’t take the time to notice what lights that fire, you’ll never know how to keep from getting burned. Strangely, once you try, even if you fail to understand, just the effort to trace it back to the source suddenly opens portals in the soul you never noticed before. When you chase the path backward through your mind, you discover triggers hidden from you, but which others can see so very plainly and can use to manipulate you.
Granted, some things tend to work on just about everyone. Our culture creates weaknesses in us, and the system in which we live sees whole sectors of our society built on this very thing, working hard to enhance the control it gives them. The majority cause of anger is control itself, the sense of loss of control over things some part of you is utterly certain it can and must control. We get angry with interference in that control. While that sort of thing is fundamentally justified, the problem with it is (a) we tend to demand control over things we simply cannot control, and (b) attempt faulty methods for exercising that control.
The single biggest factor, to which Altucher alludes, is taking yourself too seriously, which is deeply entangled with keeping up a false front to the world. This puts us in a position of attempting image control, which never works. Once you decide what it is you really are in this world, and what you can do about it, lots of senseless anger fades away.
In the case of that woman in my neighborhood, I have observed more than once her furious attempt to demand something of some other person or creature she could not have, or at least could not have it through the methods she insisted on using. It’s that old, “Dammit, you will do it my way or you will pay!” And the payment is a furious physical attack. Not that she isn’t capable of carrying it out — she’s pretty tough — but it simply doesn’t work that way. It demands someone else be in prison with her, so to speak. Enslaving others to fear is the worst possible route to control over factors in your life.
It’s also taking this world entirely too seriously. She paid lip service to the idea of holding otherworldly values, but never actually managed it.
At any rate, anger is not inherently wrong, but part of her sentencing is taking that bogus “anger management” class governments use to install satanic moral perversion into human minds. The Bible says, “Be angry, but do not sin” (Ephesians 4:25f). Anger is not a result of the Fall, but its ruthless rule over us is. Anger was wired into us by God to empower a just response to a just provocation. When someone threatens your mission from God, anger is appropriate, and so are some angry actions. Train your anger; don’t let it train you.
Like fire, anger is a useful servant and a fearful master.