In the course of the last month or so, I have been challenged by some good people to think about anger, leadership and thugs – especially as to how they apply to the issues of the day. And right up front – thanks to those people for prodding me to think about these things.
A friend of mine shares posts on Facebook, some of which are articles about oil spills or human rights or some other hot button issue. Recently, one of those articles was an opinion piece (by someone other than this good friend) that rudely tore apart another person for tearing apart someone else. I responded to that article, saying that getting angry and rude at someone for being angry and rude is fruitless. The issue was important, and I’m sure the two people who I saw as rude were sincere in their passion. Yet, I found no good in the anger and in the rudeness. The friend who shared the post asked me if I ever get angry about anything. I responded that I do wonder if my anger button is broken – and that I just don’t see anger as seen in the two articles as being a fruitful emotion. And yes, I do have my outwardly angry moments – just ask my wife.
That is not to say that anger should be stifled – it is a legitimate human reaction, as are frustration, hate, love, envy and others. To add a few more to the list: immorality, idolatry, discord, jealousy, selfish ambitions . . . this is sort of a list similar to the seven deadly sins.
Let me share another list with you: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I will not say that these are all the living virtues, but perhaps they are close.
I think too often we dwell in that first list far too much. They are by nature very human things, and therefore should not be perceived as being a surprise when they arise. Yet, we claim to be civilized – and therefore I believe we can control those items in that first list, even when it is difficult to do so. We have laws that address crimes that may arise out of that first list – you could cite some of those yourself.
That second list? I believe these are also human reactions – just as natural as the first list. The difference is that I think you would be hard pressed to find laws against any of them.
So perhaps we all strive to live up to the second list as best we can – and we will succumb to the first list more than we would like.
So is this just so much hogwash on me getting angry or not? You tell me.
Another good friend and I were discussing the current events in Baltimore – I had suggested that those in Baltimore needed to have a leader rise up from their ranks to help calm the situation – to bring order out of the chaos. My friend asked why couldn’t I be a leader.
Perhaps I could. I cannot imagine that I could have gone to Baltimore in those emotional days, pulled out my soapbox and made peace. Under non scenario can I see that they would have all put down their weapons and said, “Hey, this guy is right. Let’s stop.” I have no credibility with those in that town. It would be folly to think so.
I once challenged a leader I knew as to what I thought his leadership was. I told that leader, “You know – you’re like the guy who stays on the edge of the lake during ice fishing season and tells everyone that the ice is plenty thick and plenty safe – but you never will go out there yourself.” Do leaders need to take risks that are expected of the followers? I would venture to say that they are the better leaders.
So to my friend who challenges me to be a leader: we’ll see what happens. Sometimes I dare to go out on the ice, sometimes I don’t.
A very dear person, while conversing about current events, asked me what my definition of THUG is. I came up with the following images:
I take you to BATMAN, the TV show of the 1960s. The Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman – they all had their band of assistants and henchmen – and even henchwomen. The main criminal was the brains, the others were the strong-armed, brainless minions – hence, they were the thugs.
I was a teacher for 34 years, a card-carrying member of the education association – better known at the teachers’ union. In the local newspapers during a particularly trying financial time of one of the local school districts, we teacher union members were seen as wielding far too much power over the school board – and we were referred to as ‘union thugs’.
I recall the movie STAND BY ME, the story about a group of boys who go in search of a dead body they’ve heard about. In that film, there is another group of older boys, led by Keiffer Sutherland, who are the town bullies. Keiffer’s character is the leader of the gang, the others are subservient to him in every way. They do his bidding, his dirty work. More thugs, yes?
And then we get the mayor of Baltimore referring to some of the participants in that city’s problems as ‘thugs’.
This very dear person who brought up the question told me that National Public Radio had done a story on how the word “thug” may be coming the replacement word for the “N word”. Oh, I surely hope not. I surely hope no one fans that flame.
I hope we find that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are what we see in our leaders – whether those leaders are us, are in our midst or ‘out there’ somewhere else.