Early on Monday morning, I went to the post office to pick up a package. They send all the people with package slips to a separate window, but this morning there was no one at the window. We waited awhile. Someone left. Someone got very angry. I snapped at a lady. She wasn’t listening to what I was telling her, but I still felt a little bad about it. It probably was not her fault. Maybe they are understaffed. Maybe someone didn’t show up for work for some reason.
I rarely get angry. It’s just not in my temperament. Often this serves me well, but I do think there is a place for anger. There’s a time to knock over tables and call people out. Maybe at 9am in a post office isn’t really the time.
Last weekend I went to a march on behalf of Eric Garner, who was killed when police held him in an illegal chokehold. People are angry about this and other recent shootings, and rightly so of you ask me (I know you didn’t, but anyway).
Of course, the anger I felt in the post office is nothing like what others are feeling about the real injustice in the world (I’m not even certain it’s the same emotion).
I think anger is often the right response to many of the things that happen in our lives, and can be useful. An important question is what you do with that anger. Do you take it out on those who are powerless or just struggling to do their jobs, do you harm others, or do you channel it against the people in power, those who abuse their wealth and privilege?
I don’t know how long you can live angry before it starts to eat at you, but it seems like there’s a kind of anger that can be used to create change. The kind that Jesus demonstrated when he threw out the moneylenders from the temple. This anger isn’t petty or self-centered. It ultimately comes out of love for others and a desire for justice.