Subscribe

Grace does not respond in anger

Sometimes there is a jolt of hot energy that runs through your body when you witness injustice, feel stressed or irritated, receive the full heft of someone else's upset, or read or hear something that goes against your values. Sometimes that jolt of hot energy happens when you don't get what you want.

Sometimes...Is it often?.... when you experience that jolt of hot energy, it inspires you to react with abrasive words, aggression, defensiveness, derision, sarcasm, or anger. That's because, just like steam in a boiling pot or lava under the Earth's crust, hot energy looks for a means of expansion and escape. It bubbles up and out of the vessel of your being, spilling onto other people, pets, even inanimate objects.

Anger, we're told, is natural. It is one of the basic human emotions. It happens to everyone. It should not be repressed. It's just one of the occasionally-unpleasant realities of life, and there is nothing we can really do about it. At least, this is the sort of thing we tell ourselves when we are furiously typing a sneering comment on a Facebook post, or getting into an argument with a family member, or snapping at our spouse. It happens to everyone, right?

But what if we saw it differently? That jolt of hot energy, that anger, does not have any inherent value. Just because you experience anger does not make it unavoidable that you do anything about it. It is merely an electric spark in the web of light, fundamentally undifferentiated from any other spark, such as passion, love, and grief. It is energy influenced by the release of hormones in your body. That's all. It doesn't have to mean anything concrete or specific. In fact, if you look at anger, and all other strong and forceful emotions, they are actually warning signs that it might NOT be time to take any action or say anything decisive, and to instead analyze why the emotion arose to find what made us feel so intense before we choose to respond at all.

Right now, in the US, we tend to read anger as power. This is because, like a nation of schoolyard children, we both revere and revile those who express anger publicly through shaming and bullying, from the snide judges on talent shows to the snark of celebrity feuds to the politics of authority in our government. It's a big problem that simplistic and childish expressions of the anger, rage, upset, and fury have become a sort of addictive process by which we entertain ourselves. What if our culture was not governed by so much anger? What would we have instead?

We would have grace.

Grace does not respond in anger. Grace pauses, breathes, and reflects. Grace gets above the situation and looks at it from a better vantage point. Grace takes the high road. Grace walks away. Grace remains firm but polite and persistent. Grace sets boundaries instead of feeling put-upon. Grace is both uncompromising and unthreatened. Grace is self-possession written in the language of inner peace. Grace is a vehicle for compassion.

Grace says, "You are allowed to have your opinions...and so is everyone else." Grace says, "This is the demon of injustice, and in order to defeat it, I will not employ its tactics." Grace says, "There is nothing that justifies my desire to diminish another human being." Grace says, "I will be myself, and I will not stand in anyone else's way of doing the same." Grace says, "If someone else is directing their anger at me, I will witness the ways in which the hot lava of their suffering is spilling over onto me, and I will not propagate that cycle of pain."

Grace is power. It is the power to not demean yourself or others. It is the power to stand tall and know that while you are not better than anyone else, you also do not need to participate in what they are doing. It the the power to be who you truly are, which is a spark of light in the web of light that underpins all existence. Some might say that grace is a gift from the divine. In fact, grace IS divinity itself, in living, breathing form. You.