The most memorable scene in the movie Network happens when News Anchor Beale incites his network audience to open their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Okay, I have to confess, the statement perfectly expresses a part of my current emotional state.
We live in a society infected by anger. Road rage, senseless violence, and other examples of pent-up anger abound. Part of this is due to the natural aggression contained within the human species. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that all of this pent-up explosive anger is directly related to abuse of all kinds, child abuse, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, do I need to go on?
When we are powerless and attacked by those who are more powerful, then anger is an inevitable result. I have been, and continue to be an angry man. I’ve had moments (sometimes years) of relative peacefulness. However, right now, press the wrong button and you may regret it.
Yesterday my anger exploded in a direction that I deeply regret. However, I was provoked. You see, sometimes anger is a legitimate and useful response to circumstances.
In the last six months my wife has suddenly died, my relationship with my father has been broken, my relationship with my oldest son has been broken, and my brother died in a motorcycle accident ten days ago. I just realized that I feel like Lt. Dan in the Forest Gump movie where he rails against the Almighty in the midst of a storm, “Is that all you’ve got, it’s going to take more than that…”
I’m sick of trying to answer the question, “How are you?” There is no answer that anybody wants to hear. My sister suggested I could use this untruthful response, “I’m looking forward to the rest of the day.” Yesterday I replied, “I am.”
I was actually in a pretty good mood, considering everything. I had accomplished most of the work I wanted to get done and I was heading toward some good food and some entertainment. I was prattling on as I am wont to do, listening and reacting and riffing on song titles, and attempting witty rejoinders. Then came this question: “Are you manic?” What do you mean, I asked. You are talking a lot and saying a lot of stuff that I don’t quite understand. “You answered my question, ‘How are you’ in a strange way.’ “
That was more than I could take. I have had enough of armchair psychiatric diagnoses. Yes, I’m manic and I’m depressed and I am having a hard time sleeping. I’m upset. Shouldn’t I be? My 47 yr. old wife died from the flu! I discovered that family relationships have been based on false assumptions and I am deeply grieving them. My 59 yr. old brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. I loved him a lot.
Haven’t I earned the right to be upset? Haven’t I earned the right to have other people stop judging my condition? I could get a psychiatric diagnosis, I’m sure. I could probably take a “vacation” in the funny farm and ingest powerful drugs that if taken in the wrong amount at the wrong time could kill me. I could take a sleeping pill and mask the pain I am feeling.
I have CHOSEN not to do all of those things! How about the rest of you folks who have different opinions about it, just butt out, okay?
However, in this instance, the person I was talking wth took advantage of our relationship and pressed in, no I really mean it, how are you? “I’m all f-ed up,” I answered, “I am f-ed up bad.”
“You know,” they replied, “you use the f-word way too much for a minister.” Okay, I’m thinking, I tell you what’s really going on and you take this opportunity to correct my language. Really? Another button pressed. You see, my dear departed wife, was an unvarnished speaker of the English language. At least once a day she would burst forth with an f-bomb, just like the majority of all of the people walking around in North America do! So not only was my language usage being attacked, but by implication, the person was implying that my wife’s language was unacceptable.
My reply: a tirade of foul language. Then the coup de grace: “You shouldn’t use that language around your 9 yr. old son.” Unfortunately this person was not the first officious intermeddler who had chosen to comment on my parenting skills. The dam had burst: “I’ll use whatever f-ing language I want to use anyway I f-ing want to with my son.”
At that point I got a little lecture about how this person blocked people on facebook for that language and that they were going to hang up the phone. I replied, “Don’t bother, I’m hanging up right now.”
Here’s the deal. I’m messed up bad. I’m really hurting. And I’m really angry. The moral of this story: Don’t mess with an angry man!
Jesus had a lot to say about this kind of thing, but I’ll leave it at this. How about putting yourself in my shoes and backing off a little, huh? And by the way, let me raise my child without your suggestions or input, okay? I’ll stay out of your child-rearing, you stay out of mine, deal?
Okay, I feel a little better. I apologize to all of those people who have gotten in the way of my anger in the last several weeks. My good reasons don’t excuse the damage I may have caused. Ah well, maybe next time I’ll do better.