The last sins we will talk about have little humor and provoke much thought. The previous ones we have blogged about have some humanness to them that, though we may wince, we feel in good company as we know everybody does it, don’t they? WRATH, however, has the synonyms of anger, revenge, rage. Those are not things we like to think about as much since when we do, we see the darker sides of ourselves. It may be okay for you to peer into that side or depth of your essence, but it is not one we are comfortable with at all.
In today’s culture here in our country, wrath, and expressing wrath outwardly, has become an uncomfortable norm. Never have so many shown WRATH so openly and almost proudly. People of color are attacked in anger and wrath with no remorse and few, if any consequences. People of differing religions are attacked with WRATH also. And then there are the people attacked because of sexual orientation, because they are female, or poor, or homeless, or just “bother” others by being different. By definition, WRATH shows little or no reasoning on the attackers part, is generally illogical, and is calculated punishment to a real or imagined injustice or opposition. If you are having trouble following this, think of the term “blind rage.” Getting it?
We have tried to steer clear of politics in our blogs, or issues faced by our nation. We know we are biased and we want to be fair and we have felt if we apply it strictly to our experiences and our little world, we will offend no one. But when we think of WRATH, we immediately are transported to the man who sat with black parishioners, prayed with them, then killed them, one by one because he was showing his anger that he in his white supremacy was not being acknowledged and lauded. We know. We should steer clear. But the WRATH of angry white people is like a cancer. The cells of hate divide, invade other cells until the cancer becomes spread throughout! But back to our personal dealings with WRATH…
We have seen the dark side of human beings. Seen things you would never want to see. We have seen animals abused and tortured. We have seen human beings abused and tortured. We have seen smiles on the faces of abusers as they hurt other beings in fits of rage, wrath, with their reasoning (if one could call it reasoning at all) being punishment needed to be meted out so a lesson could be learned, or because the offending party had been rude, or pushy, or asking for it. Friends have been raped because the person full of wrath thought they were snooty or were “asking for it.” Animals have been beaten to death because they were “defiant.” See? Wrath is anger to the point of no reasoning. This Cardinal Sin is assuredly “a deliberate and purposeful violation of the will of God.”
We truly believe when one acts with WRATH, to teach a lesson, to punish, to lash out in anger by bullying, torturing, name-calling, delighting in hurting and harming others, it is a grave and serious SIN and should carry heavy consequences. We also feel it is a sign of gross feelings of inferiority because the wrath truly comes from being exposed as being less-than, or weak, or intellectually unequal to others. So one example in our experience.
Being little, young in age, and a girl, is a disadvantage in a home filled with constant undercurrents of rage and the need for revenge against the world in general. Children learn from their parents and their actions. Whether this is good or bad depends on numerous factors and how that child adapts to situations outside the family circle. Instead of furthering our own trials and events onto others at school or places we went as children, we could sense when another our age was experiencing similar events at home. That created a bond between us and the ones we instinctively knew were suffering also. We had a choice. Choose power over them, bully them since we knew they were already feeling weak, or champion them, defending them against others or anymore bullying. Clothes, color, church or no church, shoes or no shoes–we were one with them in spirit. This became our essence, our being, our life. We protested the Vietnam war. We protested the deaths at Kent State. We protested corruption and lies. We doubted everything, questioned all authority, read with zeal everything we could about every injustice being committed so we could battle it, not with wrath, but with learning and intelligent debate. And now, in our senior years, it seems all the anger, the wrath, the revenge against others with no REASON has reared its ugly head once more. And who carries a deep feeling rage and wrath now? WE DO. We want this unreasonable, insane hate and wrath to end! It makes us physically sick! We see it bubbling, being accepted, nurtured, fostered by the ones who are supposed to protect and lead and we are looking inside and screaming “NO MORE! NOT AGAIN! NO ONE SHOULD LIVE THROUGH THIS AGAIN!” Do you see how it works? There is no justification for the vengeance and cruelty we see now against people who are poor, non-white, non-evangelicals, not straight, or are sick, disabled, uneducated. We repeat–there is NO JUSTIFICATION for this! And this is why we dislike looking at our dark side, the side that is WRATHFUL. That is why we can find no small hint of humor in WRATH.
So we look to its counterpart–the virtue of PATIENCE. Patience is what your mother or that mentor you looked up to always said, “Take a deep breath and count to ten before you act.” It may sound trite and cliche, but it has kept us from doing some really dark and unpleasant things, honest truth. Unless you are a saint, and you may very well be, dark thoughts of wrath and how to carry it out have probably crossed your mind at some point in time. Remember that guy that thought he was god’s gift to women that pinned you against a wall when he thought no one saw? Oh, yeah. What you could do to him! Or how about that woman that made the comment about the poor old man in the line in front of her, being so filthy and obviously a “stupid re-tard”? Did you wonder if you cut her tongue out of her mouth if it would cure her “problem”? Or the guy that kicked the dog, dragging it, then kicking it some more, then finally throwing it to the side of the road, helpless and with broken bones? Did your dark side want to hurl your WRATH at him full force and kick HIM? Drag HIM? Kick HIM some more and then leave him by the side of the road with broken bones? (Geez we hope your dark side wanted it!) But PATIENCE wins out and someone does see you being pinned up against a wall and takes action to help you and see the guy appropriately punished. PATIENCE lets you see the cashier also hear the comment the woman made and take time with the man who is dirty, showing him kindness and caring and making her wait longer in line. Patience lets you feel good about somebody seeing the dog being abused, filming it, then rescuing the dog and the guy facing felony animal abuse in court. Things don’t stop on a dime because we are offended or upset by what is happening. PATIENCE says it will come round and your flying into a whirlwind of wrath and rage will probably only exacerbate the whole situation and nothing good will come of it. That’s when we fall back on the phrase, “Karma is a bitch.” ( And pray for it to come round.)
There’s even more to PATIENCE. Something we often forget, and we think others do, too. Here we have quite a few examples of patience being the virtue that wins over all.
We will limit ourselves to one that stands out in our heart and mind. We were teaching a class, and two burly college students carried a dispute they were having into the classroom from where they had been threatening each other in the hall. We had heard loud slurs and name calling going on and it didn’t stop as they entered our classroom. Quickly, we scanned the room and saw some getting ready to take sides and others looking fearful and almost cowed by what everyone could hear in the exchange. We knew we had the choice of demanding they get out and calling security, as it seemed ready to come to physical blows, or we could try to diffuse the situation. We rapidly counted to ten, taking in a deep breath, and placed our suddenly small body between the two young men. They looked at us with disgust as we quietly said, “Just what the hell are you guys doing?” Just for a brief, and we do mean brief, moment, the two stopped and looked at us like we were crazy–and we felt crazy. Then both started loudly saying unintelligible words and we put a hand toward each and said, “Take a breath, guys, because I can’t understand a word either of you are saying.” Again, there was a pause, then confused looks on their faces. The wrath and anger melted and we breathed again, knowing it would be okay–maybe not over–but at least temporarily okay. Others who had been ready to join the fiasco started talking, and some even laughed and the ones cowering looked relieved. Everyone agreed things had gotten “out of hand” and we discussed appropriate times and places for “disagreements” and class was held with glares between the two adversaries, but no outbursts or action. PATIENCE. Stop. Wait. THINK.
PATIENCE says it won’t last FOREVER! PATIENCE lets us have time to think and then act. PATIENCE teaches us to RESPOND and not REACT. And oh, it’s so hard! Had we acted like we felt in the example, we would have started telling both of them off, pulled rank by being the one who could summon security, and felt godawful after the fact. PATIENCE doesn’t condone what we see happening, but it gives us a chance to think about it and respond with maybe, hopefully, a solution or at least a meeting of the minds, so to speak.
Anyway, this blog has taken us where we are totally uncomfortable, but if we don’t get it out, it will be tomorrow and we have a couple of sins to go, so… 🙂 In summary, wrath, our own or others–scares us to death. Patience is a learned and cultivated virtue. It’s one we think is needed more now than it ever has been. That’s our take on it. See you for the next sin! 🙂