“People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.” – Will Rogers
“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” – Phyllis Diller
Repressing anger is probably the worst thing we can do. But expressing it badly is worse. Attitude makes all the difference.
The source of anger can be varied. But the quality of the source matters also. In a previous post , I dealt with what we can consider unjustified anger, what I perceive as an intentional aggression but is not. The question now arises; what do you do if your anger is justified, if you are the victim of an objective aggression?
First of all, it is necessary to separate anger from justice. We tend to consider justice as jurisprudence, where strict sets of laws dictate compensation for crimes committed; one must be punished to compensate for damages caused.
We forget that justice is also a cardinal virtue, “a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them” (Catholic Encyclopedia ).
Whether seen as virtue or compensation, justice as an expression of anger is not good. Does that mean we have to repress anger? No. We need to get it out. It’s healthy. To give a generic solution of how may not be helpful to all. I can say what works for me.
I am the type of person that tends to hold things in, not out of virtue, but temperament. The bad side is, I eventually explode, and many times the recipient is not the aggressor. Therefore, the sooner I get it out, the better. And the way I get it out also matters.
Confession is the best venue, because if forces me to face the situation objectively; I have to examine my conscience to discover any complicity or fault that might have provoked the situation. A useful meditation to help me do that is to meditate on the Heart of Christ, or the love of God.
God loves, regardless of the sin. There is no sinner he does not forgive. This person who has hurt me has not fallen from God’s love, and never will. Even the gravest sinner is loved by God. Humanly speaking, that is hard to accept. But it doesn’t change the fact – God is love. God forgives that person even before I do.
When I try to forgive like God forgives me, it doesn’t mean justice is no longer necessary. Even after confession, I must do penance. Whether justice is done to my aggressor or not, should not keep me from seeking forgiveness and forgiving. Otherwise, as I said before, I only harm myself and possibly harm others.
Seek justice, but if justice takes a long time, don’t wait to forgive and be forgiven. Learn from Jesus who is meek and humble of heart.