“In a controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for truth and have begun striving for ourselves.” ~Abraham J. Heschel
The lure of anger is that it makes us feel empowered.
Moments of rage — even unabashed hatred — flush our veins with the overwhelmingly sensation of power.
Anger is indeed powerful. It seems to promise us protection, strength.
But the seductive nature of the emotion is what misleads us into believing that we are empowered by its presence. Unabashed anger creates a false-reality — an illusion of empowerment — that deceives us unto believing we are stronger and safer when we choose to get angry or allow rage to overcome us.
Anger is seductive.
Anger lures us. It entices us. Something about feeling angry is oddly but undeniably alluring. Envision a moment of ire in your head: Our hearts race uncontrollably. Adrenaline and heat surge throughout our bodies from head to toe. And although it feels wrong, something about it is just so… addicting. But, why?
When I think back to my days of playing lacrosse in high school, I remember those moments when getting really angry — about a penalty made against me or a cheap shot upon one of my teammates, for example — sparked a surreal feeling of strength, like I was unstoppable. Those bouts of rage felt like they benefited my game. But what I saw more than not was anger get the best of players, causing them to invoke fights, sustain major penalties, and receive game expulsions.
Within fits of anger, we begin to think that there exists a secret, naturally-occurring source of total empowerment. It’s like it’s there for the taking. Like a wild stallion that throws every would-be master from its back, it appears as if anyone can make this power theirs — if they are strong enough to control it. And so we think, “If only we could control the force of anger and harness its power for our will: for our own self-protection and to protect those whom we love and care about.” But the power that comes from anger is a dangerous one.
Anger is its own beast.
Negativity begets greater negativity, anger begets anger, and hatred begets hatred. The snowball effect of our anger is manifested in the forms of rage, fury, and blinding hatred — it clouds our natural sense of good judgment and overcomes patience and prudence.
A Marvel comic book superhero was dedicated to the concept of the remarkable strength and power that can arise through anger: the Incredible Hulk. No matter how strong or powerful we may feel — or, in the Hulk’s case, become — as a result of our anger, it can and will come to control us instead.
Anger is powerful, but uncontrollable. Attempting to harness it is a nowhere road: Like a cancerous tumor, inner rage will grow to proportions beyond our control and begin to hurt us — in irreversible ways. Worse, when one grows too accustomed to utilizing anger as a means of self-defense — a false embodiment of strength — he puts himself and others in great peril, not under protection. His anger will cloud his good judgment and any natural instinct that says what is right from wrong; that his behavior or attitude might be going to far.
All it takes is one “too far” moment resulting from one’s anger or rage to irreversibly change or destroy someone’s life — whether a stranger, your own, or the life of one you love. The lure of anger is one of false-empowerment. True strength is to diffuse our rage, to deny our fury, to recognize that true strength comes from peace of mind.