Because life is a series of edits

Learner & Anger: Growing Up or Growing Older?

In Thought on March 7, 2007 at 11:48 am

Like many, Learner does not like to think of himself as an angry person, but he recognizes that he is – or at least can be – given the right situation, threat, or (dare he say it?) desire. He wouldn’t say he grew up in an angry family, but he did see anger used occasionally as a tool and a means for either getting one’s way or not letting others have theirs. Is there a difference between the two? Regardless, anger was an instrument of control – of preference, of environment – and he has been too good a student of its many uses.

In thinking through this, Learner says, certain questions come to mind pertaining to his anger tendencies: Does his becoming so angry so quickly over so many trivial things in life contribute to the fact that he is hardly angry enough over injustices in the world that merit true righteous anger? Why does one of his daughters spilling milk at dinner (again) cause his blood to boil more than the reality of someone else’s daughter not having any milk to drink because of political embargoes? Why does someone – always the same guy! – talking loudly (and always at length) in the library make him more angry than the fact that someone else cannot speak because of governmental censorship laws in another country?

If, as one of Learner’s recent authors writes, “anger reminds us that we do not live in utopia,” the question begs asking: What kind of utopia must he want to live in if the reasons for his anger are so pathetically inconsequential? What does this tell him about his ideals and the extent to which he pursues them? His tendency, he says, is to act out – to make a scene, a point, or a big deal about an annoyance – making him the issue rather than the issue itself.

Sadly, he can’t say he’s grown as much in this area of sanctification as he would like, and Mrs. Learner and the kids are the ones who suffer most because of his “melancholic funks”. Unfortunately, this is some of what he was taught in his youth, and some of what he learned growing up.

“Or at least,” he says, “when I was growing ‘older'”.

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