Anybody can become angry.
But, as Aristotle said, to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way is not that easy.
Experiments by psychologists indicate we typically have a well-developed sense of fairness and often co-operate with others rather than competing with them — until repressed anger gets in the way.
We sometimes desperately crave revenge against those who have offended us, and live as prisoners of our pain, obsessed with getting even.
We all choose to get angry and no matter what happens in our lives, no one else is to blame for our anger.
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius asked: “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it?”
Using hatred against hatred is a nonsense. But if we use compassion to embrace those who have harmed us, it can diffuse the bomb in our hearts and in theirs.
Sometimes, when we allow grace to work, we forgive our tormentors and our hearts are freed to move beyond their hardened boundaries.
We are able to walk in the shoes of the other person.
Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, once nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, was asked what he would say if he could have spoken to Osama Bin Laden.
The monk said the first thing he would do was to listen.
“I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way,” he said.
“I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid.”
The monk said he would consider bin Laden’s words and then respond gently, but firmly in such a way to help bin Laden discover his “misunderstandings” about violence.
The ancient sages knew what they were doing when they ranked anger among the seven deadly sins and urged people to beware the temptation. Anger blocks blessings.
Without forgiveness and understanding, there is no hope and no future. Our destinies are, in fact, lost in our anger.