I think, for most of us, anger is the most common and the toughest of the patterns of evil thought to conquer. It certainly has been for me. My constant challenge is to live each day with as much love as I can, to love my neighbor as myself. Some days, that's very easy to do. Others, not so much. As a deeply flawed inhabitant of God's earth, I have struggled with all of these "patterns of evil thought" just as you likely have. But anger is my nemesis, and I have to work on it consciously – and often. A lot of things make me mad in this world, and I have a hard time keeping that in check. Things like injustice, intolerance, bigotry, and apathy make me very angry. But sometimes, it's the little things that send us over the edge: bad service in a restaurant, the politics of little league baseball, parent-teacher meetings, annoying co-workers, disrespectful teenagers and rush hour traffic.
Yet I found inspiration recently, in a most unlikely place, which helped me to work with the energy of anger in a creative way.
I came across an interview with Bob Geldof, the acerbic Irish rock star who dedicated much of his career to the cause of ending global poverty. He is a fearless and outspoken man of extraordinary character, whose work and commitment inspires people all over the world. As for his personality and temperament... well, Mother Theresa he's not. Bob Geldof is angry, and he admits it.
In the interview, Sir Bob was discussing the idea of activism, and described a primary difference between himself and his friend Bono, another Irish rocker who has dedicated admirable time and effort towards changing the world for the better. Geldof said, "Bono, as we all know, is in love with the world. He's enamored by it. I'm enraged by it. He wants to give the world a great big hug; I want to punch its lights out."
That quote made me laugh at first, but then I started really thinking about it and came to the conclusion that it was pure genius because it represents a great human conundrum: how, exactly, are those of us who are trying to embrace a philosophy of love able to deal with our anger over the injustices that drive us to the brink? We all wrestle with our anger over the issues in our own lives as well as out there in the world. How do we keep that anger from bubbling over?
The lesson I took from looking at Geldof's example was this:
Rather than simply ranting at the world – or worse, allowing the anger to devour our insides when we suppress it – we need to find constructive ways to harness that energy and put it to work for change. Bob Geldof motivated a majority of the entire entertainment industry, and ultimately millions of global citizens, not only to care but to take action about the plight of suffering human beings. He did this by harnessing his anger - and making it work in a dynamic way.
And what happens when we look to Jesus for examples on anger? What emotion was Jesus displaying when he turned over the moneylender's and merchant's tables in the Temple? This was a violent act of vandalism. Jesus must have been angry when he did this.
Is it possible that the Prince of Peace sometimes wanted to punch the world's lights out, too? In turning over the tables, Jesus was taking a stand against those who he felt had turned a place of spirituality into a marketplace of iniquity. His anger was a righteous indignation that moved him into action. But his anger also caused a lot of trouble for him with the authorities in Jerusalem.
Perhaps Jesus tried to show us his humanity in the story of the Temple tables, so that we could relate to him that much more. If even Jesus lost his temper at times, perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves about our imperfections. Anger is a most difficult demon to tame. But in the interest of living with more love and changing the world, channeling it into a force for justice or charity seems a most effective means of dealing with it.
You don't have to be an activist to apply this idea. You can use it in your own life for your own benefit as well, which is a perfectly acceptable and very positive thing to do. Think about how much adrenaline builds inside of you when you are angry about something. You know, that feeling that you want to explode when something or someone really ticked you off? What if you could take that same energy and re-route it, use it toward a personal goal that you may have?
And that, sweet friends, is what I choose to do with my anger. I feel it and I do not deny it. I use it as an active principle, just as I use love as an active principle. Some say I am not "loving" because I speak out - sometimes harshly - against things that I find to be unjust or untrue. But for me, love is not a passive principle. Love is an active principle which moves me to action. I do the work I do because I love the world and want to make it a better place.
We all express love differently depending on our own personal missions in this life. Mine is an active expression. We all have to find our own way.
My source in the spiritual realm,
I celebrate your presence with me here.
Let me be guided by unconditional Love
and be of service for the highest good.
Thank you for the abundance I receive,
and please forgive my mistakes,
as I forgive those who cause me difficulties.
Help me to fulfill my purpose, uphold my values,
and be understanding and compassionate.
With all my love.