A Massachusetts woman whose 15-year-old son was left comatose by a hit-and-run driver had to be physically removed from the courtroom after launching into a tirade against the man accused of the crime. He allegedly struck her son with his SUV, dragged him half a block and then sped away. The 26-year-old man has had his driver’s license suspended eight times in eight years.
The Boston Globe reported that the woman, her voice shaking with rage, shouted, “What about my son?”
Her anger is understandable. Her son’s future is uncertain at best.
This one is a little more difficult to understand: A North Haven, Conn., bride spent part of her wedding night in jail after being arrested on criminal mischief and breach of peace charges. She became enraged at workers at the restaurant where the wedding reception was held when they closed the bar.
She allegedly began throwing things—including the wedding cake and some vases. She then left, and police found her walking down the road, still wearing her wedding gown. As she was taken into custody, police report that she kicked the door and window of the patrol car and tried to bite one of the officers.
After posting bond, she was released and went on her honeymoon.
Anger can be toxic. It can eat at us from the inside, and it can spew out in hurtful words and disastrous actions aimed at others.
One moment of unchecked anger can be disastrous, even deadly. News reports regularly feature accounts of road rage, fights at sporting events, domestic incidents, child abuse and other cruelty fueled by mishandled anger.
Angela Oliver had stopped by a Mauldin, S.C. supermarket to get some groceries when a man approached her on the cracker aisle and said, “How are you doing today ma’am?”
Moments later, he stabbed her in the right temple with a screwdriver.
Oliver remained conscious and was able to identify her attacker for police, who have charged the man with assault and battery with intent to kill. The attack fortunately missed Oliver’s brain, eyes and ears, entering only her nasal cavity.
She says she prays for her attacker every day. “I pray that he gets the help that he needs because he definitely needs help. Because it seems like he has a lot of anger built up in him to just attack someone for no reason at all.”
People throughout the ages have recognized the pitfalls of anger. Confucius (551 B.C.-479 B.C.) said, “When anger rises, think of the consequences.”
“The greatest remedy for anger is delay,” according to Seneca (5 B.C. – 65 A.D.).
Epictetus (55 A.D.-135 A.D.) said, “If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase.”
The Bible doesn’t ignore the reality of anger. It acknowledges that we all feel anger and struggle with how to handle it. And that, of course, is the key.
Wise people, the writer of Proverbs says, proceed with caution when they are angry. They speak in calm, measured tones. Their demeanor is non-reactive and non-provocative. And they hold back opinions and outbursts in an effort to foster genuine communication.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Prov 14:29 NRSV).
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.