“People often use their anger at social injustice as a basis for action, but that is unwise. When you are angry you are not lucid, and you can do many harmful things.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Resting in anger is ultimately self-defeating. However, just (“righteous” in Biblical terms) anger can motivate us to transform our own lives for the better through clear mind and compassionate action. Transformed by clear mind and compassionate action, we are better prepared to face the problems and injustices of the world.
Unfortunately, most of us choose to stay with anger rather than changing for the better our own attitudes, actions, and relationships.
As the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh points out, anger clouds judgment. It inhibits us in our perception of those we disagree with, and it inhibits us in our self-perception. Anger is the perfect emotion for bubble dwellers — people who have no interest in understanding the world beyond their own noses.
That’s not to say that we can’t do anything useful with anger. I still recall what Sister Colleen McGinnity, a nun from my childhood parish, used to say, “The reason you begin an undertaking is often less important than the reason you persevere.”
And so, the chief — and most difficult — task of today’s social activist is to transform anger into compassionate action.
January 28, 2017