Angry protests on the evening news, confrontations in the parking lot of the grocery store, or heated family arguments next door, are often closer than we'd like.
I have known anger of a violent nature. And, more important, I've seen it dissolve.
When I was growing up, my father had a volatile temper, and without warning the entire household could be turned into an uproar. I feared and resented these episodes. Though my mother was never touched, Dad would often strike me and my siblings. Sometimes he would even chase us down and beat us.
As I was the last to leave home, I endured these attacks longer than the others in my family. It wasn't until my college years that I deeply and earnestly sought a solution and began to pray about this. The anger was so much a part of the fabric of our home, I suppose I didn't put it into the category of "healable."
One time, after a particularly disturbing episode, I was in my room crying at first, but then praying.
All at once I realized that these were terrible events for my dad. On some level, I knew he regretted them and tried to compensate for them with generosity and kindnesses afterward. These attempts often fell flat. The kindnesses never had the impact that the hurt had, so I turned from them.
That night, however, in consulting with my divine Father-Mother, I felt a tremendous softening in my heart and great compassion for my dad. I was able for the first time to separate the behavior from what I intuitively felt was his genuinely good nature. I saw the kindness as real, and the violence as an imposition on him - something that could never be part of him, according to God. God made His creation like Him. God is Love, and as His children we each are the expression of this loving, divine nature.
Around this time, I was reading "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. This sentence popped out at me, and taught me a large lesson: "It is error even to murmur or to be angry over sin" (p. 369).
I reasoned that it is a mistake to harbor images and memories of this kind, no matter how justifiable it seemed, because, for the sake of healing, of having a higher ideal, I had to let them go. Anger itself was the culprit, not my dad, or anyone else. And to be angry over anger was compounding the problem.
Once the compassion was in place, the episodes ceased. I did not know him to have another outburst after that time. I grew to thoroughly appreciate my dad's wonderful qualities, as he did mine.
Now, whenever I'm exposed to anger, I'm careful to check the temptation to react. To be perplexed or fearful magnifies the problem. Instead, I'm endeavoring to administer the kind of Christly compassion that reaches deep into the hearts involved.
Nothing is more powerful than the touch of the Christ, the healing power of divine Truth and Love. It softens and soothes, dissolving fear and hatred, as well as the remorse that most feel after an outburst.
When Jesus faced an angry mob, he passed right through them untouched. His concept of man must have been so elevated that until the time of his crucifixion and resurrection, he could not be touched, nor could his holy purpose be thwarted.
I believe God has a purpose for each one of His children. It is to express freely the intelligence, dominion, and grace that God bestows. We needn't contribute to the astonishment over anger, but rather to the healing of anger. We can hold to the calm and clear presence that is God. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32).