Nelson column: Why are we so angry?
If there is a prevailing mood that seems to be universal these days, it is one of anger. All around us we experience the anger of individuals, groups, communities, and societies. The whole world seems to be in a griping syndrome.
That being said, how do we begin to cope with this epidemic? How do we adjust attitudes, behavior, and thinking?
It seems to me that this is an age-old question that has plagued humankind since the beginning of time.
You have no doubt heard that if we could only follow the golden rule things would be different. Ideally, that may be true. But the reality is that few people seem to practice that dictum. Respect and acceptance of one another is lost in the jockeying for advantage, superiority and control.
Maybe if we looked at the dynamic of anger we would sense where the problem lies. Psychologists tell us that anger surfaces whenever one does not get what he or she wants.
No wonder anger pervades our society. People are not getting what they want. Everyone seems to demand what satisfies and pleases their own needs, irrespective of others. Letís call it what it is: selfishness and greed.
Because of this, we are witness to an avalanche of complaining, fussing, arguing and even hating. Rather than resolution, society’s rhetoric is never-ending with vitriolic arguments that accuse others of being the problem. How easy it is to blame others and not look critically at ourselves. Blame doesnít resolve circumstances but only worsens them.
I believe, however, that there is a way to work through such problems and issues. There is light up ahead. That reality can be seen in asking for Godís help in discerning his direction, love, and forgiveness. That’s how we might be able to recognize this light.
When anger prevails and darkness abounds, we can only move to the next step for true resolutionónamely, forgiveness.
In the book of Psalms, chapter 37, verse 8, the writer makes his point clear. ěRefrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.î
Yes, we are to forgive ourselves, as we are to forgive others. To demand God’s help in enabling us to be forgiving is the right place to start. Who knows, maybeójust maybeóour anger can be turned away with love and acceptance taking its place.
For society to move away from the devastation of anger, it would do well for us to see it for what it isóan evil that thrives on discord, suffering, fear, and hatred. Just maybe, it is possible for us to move away from anger if we simply ask for God’s help in seeking forgiveness for others and ourselves.
Lord have mercy upon us!
Dr. David Nelson is a retired Lutheran pastor.