Being Angry without Being Hateful

There is a lot to be angry* about right now, but to allow that anger to transform us into hateful creatures is to defeat ourselves instead of the ones who are causing our anger.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Ephesians 4:26 (The Message translation)

Anger isn’t a bad thing. It’s a human thing. As Heather Heyer, the young woman who was killed by a weaponized automobile in the terror attack in Charlottesville, was reportedly fond of saying, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” But outrage and anger unchecked becomes not only toxic to its owner, but ineffective in achieving any sort of change.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. James 1:19-20 (The Message translation)

Instead of re-posting incorrect identifications of people seen with the white supremacists in Charlottesville or making vague statements about who isn’t standing up and speaking out enough to suit you or trying to shame people you believe are complicit in the problem, why not

channel your anger toward redemptive action.  

Speak out with words of love and sorrow–love for those whose rights and  freedoms and safety are being threatened. Reach out in sorrow (if you can’t muster up love) for the sad souls whose hateful hearts are doing so much damage to our country.

Give money and time to organizations that champion the rights of African-Americans, LGBTQ people, Muslim-Americans and immigrants.

Call people on their actions without shaming them. Recently someone I know on FB posted a picture of a transgender woman, who is clearly not fully transitioned, panhandling on a street corner. There were comments of shock and disgust and even, “what do I tell my kids about him?”  Rather than berate the poster and commentators, I added to the comments, “Her name is _________. She is transgender and also suffers from PTSD from time served in Vietnam. She has attended our church, and we tell our kids that she was born a man but it more comfortable living as a woman. Kids seem to get that.”  All of a sudden, she was a person instead of a sideshow attraction. The post has since been removed.

Contact the politicians and public figures who made quick and firm denouncements of the terrorist acts of white supremacists, and let them know they are supported and appreciated.

Pray. Pray for the haters and the hated. Pray to be aware of your own complicity in the problem. Pray for guidance to do the most you can with what you’ve got.

Continue to be angry. After all, if you’re not, you’re not paying attention. But don’t let your anger become a liability in your efforts to affect change.  People with hard hearts, hurtful words and harmful actions are rarely able to facilitate meaningful and lasting transformation.

*Disclaimer: this was written by a straight, cis-gendered, Christian white-girl  who gets that my situation makes getting a grip on my anger easier than it is for many others. 

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