RAMBLE AND BABBLE 10: ANGER AND FAITH
A concerned parent wrote to me to provide some advice on “Anger” to his son. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or educator. I hope they will find my ramble and babble helpful.
Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics wrote,” Everyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.”
I read that wise quotation decades ago, and the word, “right” often ends up not quite right. There is a gap (time and event) between the cognition and the feeling or emotion. Thoughts are electrical brain activity and feelings are chemically mediated, and it’s strange that the faster component seems to lag behind. May be the chemical are seeping or immersing there for a long time since upbringing. The heuristics are automations, called it schema or whatever one likes. Anger, whether it’s feeling, mood, emotion, thought or all is indeed an arousal symptoms; similar experience with anxiety, stress, or even lust, only the mind names it differently. We could not live in this world without “arousal”, for the creator did not make it safe for every one of us. And He complicated it without so many religions and knowledge, and each claimed to be “right”. Faith, a belief, no longer make serene. Irrespective of how modern science progresses, the ego mind remains primitive: fight, flight or freeze. The Christian God is an angry god; in Buddhism, you need to achieve advanced sainthood to have no anger (no ego); in other religion, they claimed they are a religion of peace, but even their brethren’s do not feel peaceful living among them. Few of the Nobel Peace Prize winners are truly peaceful; if you doubt this, just ask Barrack Obama, or even the Dalai. This is said not to belittle them, but to point out they are as human as us. For most sane people, we can get rid of anger, so don’t try to be perfect, or feel guilty or shame about it (unless the feeling and thought have resulted into evil or harmful conduct) ; anger can be a great motivator, for it provides tremendous energy to move forward, though it is also powerful to do violence and destruction. Excessive faith and energy, without proper balance of conscience, shame of doing wrong or harming others or self, are living examples.
I do not wish to bore any reader with long statements. Jeffrey Kotler wrote, “Real insight, if it is truly part of you, cannot really exist as mere intellectual revelations.” I shall conclude with the revised “Serenity Prayer of alcoholic anonymous” :
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the differences.”