Why Are We All So #@%^&$! Angry?

AngryGuy
If your eyes are open you can’t miss it: We are an angry people.

There is a thick and tangible bitterness marking our daily exchanges; the freeway middle fingers, the vile comment section rants, the cutting kitchen table tirades.

We all seem to live either a hair’s breadth from explosion or shell socked in its bloody aftermath.

Stepping back from the fray long enough to see it clearly, and this caustic animosity that has so settled into our collective hearts feels more and more like a swiftly metastasizing cancer that we’re doomed to succumb to; bringing all the dread, all the hopelessness, all the helplessness that comes when a sickness feels unstoppable.

The Internet seems to confirm this diagnosis.

Lately our news feeds look more like killing fields. Not just the horrible stories of violence and bigotry and atrocity alone (which would be enough to overwhelm most decent folks) but the viciousness that frames our retelling of those stories; the way we use them as weapons themselves to wound and injure and retaliate. Our hyperlinks and reTweets and meme shares have become deadly daily ammunition in the hands of hateful online crusaders, where we meet another’s outrage with more of the same.

The question is, why are we so damn angry and what, if anything can we do about it?

My Christian tradition tells me that Sin is the culprit, that it is the very soul disease that causes us to be forever afflicted here, always mired in a profound unrest, forever in a state of enmity with the world, perpetually conflicted. While guests on the planet (that tradition says) this is how things are going to be—this is our bitter lot in this life. To be honest, at this stage of my journey, this feels inadequate. It feels like a convenient religious cop-out or at best a resignation to an earthly awfulness that God is allowing.

I feel myself straining for a better answer, even if it comes down to semantics.

I want to believe that beneath all of this corrosive cruelty is Humanity; that the anger is a desperate coping mechanism for the daily hell our souls endure. I want to believe that it is our inherent decency in the face of unfathomable violence that gives rise to the rage.

I want goodness to be there valiantly fighting to find a fitting response to injustice. I’m praying that love is there trying to push back the darkness and that this vitriol is just a protective callous formed on our hearts over time.

I’m banking on that for myself too or I’m not sure how else I can reconcile the mirror much of the time.

You see some days I’m absolutely certain that my anger is most righteous, my cause is pure, that this is all indeed a noble endeavor against evil. Just as often though, I feel like another pissed off prophet who’s lost the plot. The difference between these two often feels microscopic.

Maybe you know what I mean. Maybe you too struggle to evaluate the true contents of your heart as you argue and advocate and navigate the war zones around you. Maybe you too are asking why you’re so angry all the time and if it’s a good enough reason to be so. Perhaps you too are wondering if you are responding to the darkness or just perpetuating it.

I think most of us want to believe that we are better than our worst behavior. I think we all have a hopeful bent toward humanity. I think we believe that goodness is our default setting (or at least it’s supposed to be) and we want to be marked by this.

Friends, there’s no way around it: Life is hard. The challenge, is not to be permanently hardened by it as you live. The greatest fight we all face here, may be to retain our softness; to cultivate gentleness despite all that is jagged and piercing around us.

I’m OK with my anger, I just don’t want to be defined by it. I don’t want it to own me.

There’s a subtle, yet critical difference between being a good person who is angry, and simply being an angry person.

I’m striving to remain the former.

 

 

 

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70 thoughts on “Why Are We All So #@%^&$! Angry?

  1. So many of the comments here made me think of a distinction with regards to anger. There is an interpersonal kind of anger which we feel when we are offended or tired or when we are in a bad mood or just plain worn down. The Bible instructs us to not let the sun go down on our wrath or if your brother has something against you, before you say your prayers, go to him first and settle it. Person to person we are to forgive each other’s debt. We will continue to be angry about the words and actions of others towards us or even strangers who have nothing to do with us, but as Christians if we follow God’s wisdom- we actively try to not let it consume us or lead us to sin.

    But there is a far different anger that is borne out of unrelenting injustice. It is an anger that builds up within the soul when the ‘system’ that is in place is inhumane, oppressive and greedy. A world system which doesn’t care for or respect the dignity of the poor, the disadvantaged or minority groups or everyday people. The system that feeds itself and lines the pockets of those who support the system. There isn’t a nation in the world, that I can think of, that doesn’t have a wealthy upper class which is well dressed, well fed and have clean comfy beds to sleep in- while outside there are hungry, suffering people. That is the kind of sustained distress which turns into outrage.

    Many Christians have this idea that Jesus is returning to punish the wicked for their list of sins and transgressions (and they can’t wait for their enemy to get their just deserts) but they forget that Jesus is returning to save the suffering, He takes away the sin of the world and rewards us for how we treated others. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. not for our personal slights or petty disagreements but for the suffering of humanity under the oppression of this age.

  2. How about we get out of our heads, somehow believing that attack and counter attack are in some way productive? And that in our prideful need to show how right we are, we can justifiably hate. As Christians we know the incredible truth that we are loved. Selah. Vastly, incomprehensibly loved despite our incapacity to get it right. And our mission is to love others as we love ourselves.
    The battle has been won. We are loved! (in spite of how we might be the one to flip off someone in traffic) We love our neighbor! (in spite of being flipped off). When in situations where I completely disagree with someone and their actions I try to first remember that they are loved by God as much as I am loved. Who am I to trump God and declare they are unlovable? Then I say a little prayer for all of us.. Let’s pray that God will show his healing power of love to those we instinctively distrust and dislike (it helps to remember that God’s love can be seen as raining burning coals of his love upon their heads and that love is strong and powerful and life changing)
    Out of our heads! Into our hearts! And may the peace that passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the love of God – and be Thankful.

  3. How about we get out of our heads, somehow believing that attack and counter attack are in some way productive? And that in our prideful need to show how right we are, we can justifiably hate. As Christians we know the incredible truth that we are loved. Selah. Vastly, incomprehensibly loved despite our incapacity to get it right. And our mission is to love others as we love ourselves.
    The battle has been won. We are loved! (in spite of how we might be the one to flip off someone in traffic) We love our neighbor! (in spite of being flipped off). When in situations where I completely disagree with someone and their actions I try to first remember that they are loved by God as much as I am loved. Who am I to trump God and declare they are unlovable? Then I say a little prayer for all of us.. Let’s pray that God will show his healing power of love to those we instinctively distrust and dislike (it helps to remember that God’s love can be seen as raining burning coals of his love upon their heads and that love is strong and powerful and life changing)
    Out of our heads! Into our hearts! And may the peace that passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the love of God – and be Thankful.

  4. Thank you John! I for one decided to ask my most loving IT hubbie to take FB, Twitter and all the rest of the “stuff” unfortunately referred to as communication off my BlackBerry. It has been SO freeing to rid myself of others drama, anger, news feeds and need to let the world know that they exist! I am so much more peacefilled in my soul, I concentrate more on personal prayer and relationship (aka listening) to God. Occasionally I do jump on our laptop like today and catch up on the people I love, but more often I’ll skype with them and actually talk, laugh, and send real smiles their way!
    Working in an ER I see more and more angry, stressed people who often say in their lowest moments “No one calls anymore, no one visits anymore, I’m so lonely, bitter , angry;” many more suicide attempts are happening with technology as a catalyst. The incidents of cyberbulling is a thousands times more aggressive than what we experienced as teenagers.
    Yes, we are an angry people but God is in charge and He is not an angry God; disappointed in us , yes but His love will conquer all. Have hope……. thank you for an always thoughtful blog!!

  5. Thank you John! I for one decided to ask my most loving IT hubbie to take FB, Twitter and all the rest of the “stuff” unfortunately referred to as communication off my BlackBerry. It has been SO freeing to rid myself of others drama, anger, news feeds and need to let the world know that they exist! I am so much more peacefilled in my soul, I concentrate more on personal prayer and relationship (aka listening) to God. Occasionally I do jump on our laptop like today and catch up on the people I love, but more often I’ll skype with them and actually talk, laugh, and send real smiles their way!
    Working in an ER I see more and more angry, stressed people who often say in their lowest moments “No one calls anymore, no one visits anymore, I’m so lonely, bitter , angry;” many more suicide attempts are happening with technology as a catalyst. The incidents of cyberbulling is a thousands times more aggressive than what we experienced as teenagers.
    Yes, we are an angry people but God is in charge and He is not an angry God; disappointed in us , yes but His love will conquer all. Have hope……. thank you for an always thoughtful blog!!

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