Anger Happens, Let’s Manage It Well
“Be angry and yet do not sin” (From the Christian Bible)
When thinking about anger, I don’t think anger is the problem; but there are definitely problems with anger. I myself find two problems with anger; one is what I do with it, and the other is what it does with me.
Jesus got angry.
We sometimes misunderstand Jesus and imagine that he was some kind of weirdly calm, serene-hippy type, but that is not right. When we read the records of Jesus and what he said to people in the Christian Bible, he is very real, very authentic, very passionate and outspoken. He was always ready to call out injustices, and that’s a large part of why so many ordinary people loved him, and so many powerful people hated him. He told the truth.
Jesus got angry when powerful people prevented ordinary people from getting justice. He got angry when powerful people blocked ordinary people from accessing God. He got angry when powerful people manipulated ordinary people’s emotions and ripped them off, especially when they pretended that it was part of their religion. Jesus got really angry when religion was misused to abuse ordinary people.
There’s some really fascinating accounts in the Christian Bible of Jesus getting angry. The best known is when he went into Jerusalem’s temple courtyard one day. This courtyard was supposed to be a peaceful, prayerful place where people prepared themselves to worship God. Instead, it was full of shouting, like Footscray market at closing time. Vendors were selling religious merch, and what was worse, the religious leaders were using this to rip-off ordinary people. Jesus got angry.
When Jesus saw the conmen crowding the courtyard he got some rope, wound it together into a home-made whip, and started walloping those conmen, their cattle and sheep, and anything else! That is pretty wild. Everyone got out of there fast.
As well as merch sellers, there were cash-currency exchange tables set up there. These were scammers who ripped off poor pilgrims. Jesus flipped their cash tables over, sending all their ill-gotten coins flying. Picture those crooks clawing the floor scrabbling for their dirty dough. How amazing.
What is wonderful about when Jesus was angry is that he only got angry on behalf of other people. He cared about others, especially others who were being wronged. Jesus’ anger was never self-centred, and he didn’t let anger control him. He stayed in control… and that’s the best bit, and the hardest bit.
As I said, anger isn’t the problem; controlling or being controlled by anger can be the problem. And, flying in the face of society’s current fashion of unleashing verbal anger on others, we need to teach our children how to manage their own anger.
Social media and society generally is teaching your children that lashing out at others for no good reason is proper behaviour. It isn’t, and I’m pretty sure that you don’t want that lesson being taught to your children. I’m confident that MCC parents want their children to learn a pro-social, emotionally healthy approach to anger.
You want your children to learn that anger is real, it can be legitimate, it can even be helpful, but it must be managed successfully and managing anger is a life-skill to learn. A starting point is for them to see us, their parents and teachers demonstrating great examples of well-managed anger.
Let’s commit as a school community of parents and staff, to model good management of our anger for our children’s sake. Let’s teach them by example, how to be angry and yet not sin.
David Gleeson, Principal