Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rage: On the Road and in Cyberspace. A Call for Healing

  In the past few days two people connected to my home city of Boston have been convicted of murder.  One is Dzhokar Tsarnaev, perpetrator of the terrible bombing at the Boston Marathon 2 years ago. The other is Aaron Hernandez, a former star for the New England Patriots who was convicted of one murder and awaits trial on 2 others.  Let me say right from the start that I have no sympathy for either of these characters, but I am troubled by some of the reactions I am seeing on social media, though those reactions do not surprise me.

   What troubles me is the level of vitriol expressed.  Certainly any American, and especially the citizens of greater Boston have every right to be angry about the bombing.  What troubles me is people spewing not just anger, but vitriol over it using curse words and suggesting what kinds of torture these people deserve.  I see similar responses when people are displeased with politicians and athletes.  The phrase, "Get a Life!" applies here.  Have people nothing better to do. Anger is a normal human emotion.  It's purpose is to help us to seek justice. whether in big court cases such as the ones mentioned here, or in our own personal affairs.  Once the conflict is resolved the anger is no longer useful to us and it becomes resentment and bitterness.  It has been said that resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.  Both of these criminals will spend life behind bars. One may be given the death penalty.  I am opposed to that, but that is for another blog post.  Wishing all kinds of evil upon them will do nothing to hurt them.  It will make the person who does this even more unhappy even if it brings temporary relief.  As people in 12 step programs rightly observe resentment is a sure way back to the bottle.  That is because resentment is a drug that gives temporary relief.

   There is also here a sense of moral superiority.  Getting on one's high horse over the evil and wickedness in others is a way of saying, "I might be bad, but at least I'm not like that."  When it comes to attacking politicians and other public figures angry ranting takes the place of reasoned argumentation.  I look forward to items on line that point out disagreement with a position and that state why.  Just calling someone an idiot is useless. I would ad that everything I said here applies to road rage as well.

    What to do about this.  Remember that forgiveness is not necessarily about compassion for the wrongdoer.  It is about compassion for oneself.  Please don't give Tsarnaev or Hernandez any rent free space in your head.  Commend them to God and get on with your life.  If you don't like a politician don't vote for him/her the next time.  Perhaps write a letter or send an e-mail expressing your disagreement.   Also, realize that almost all of us carry a lifetime of grievances with us.I call these our "anger bag."  When useless anger about the past arises I ask God to take it from me. I still have a few more things to let go of but I am a much happier man today because of practicing this discipline.

   Finally,  I will be praying for the above mentioned criminals as I do for all prisoners.  I pray that whatever evil entered their souls will be cleansed and healed during their days in prison.  After all that is why the Church provides chaplains there.



1 comment:

  1. . Catholics against the death penalty ( not Pius XII who affirmed it during 1952) should have been excluded from the jury. It has nothing to do with anger for those who love Romans 13:4 more than Evangelium Vitae and ccc 2267.
    google " statista 50 most dangerous cities". Then read the list and do the background research. 43 of the 50 worst cities are in Catholic countries with no death penalty.
    Both EV and the catechism writer did no research on the mess which is Catholic countries with high murder rates both in the Phillipines and from Brazil to Mexico.