A Confession: Sometimes Anger Works for Me

“Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve now and then shared some of the thoughts that have brought me healing.  Usually these are thoughts of hope and joy, humor and cheery positivity. But sometimes there’s another mental place I go when I need healing – a place that I’ve been weirdly reluctant to share with others. But… maybe it’s time. Here it is: Sometimes I just get completely angry and exasperated with sickness and gloom. Sometimes my inner rabble gets roused and I get this powerful sense of indignation towards anything that would try to foist itself on me that I don’t want foisted on me. Sometimes I feel this powerful surge of revolt against anything that would try to take away my God-given right to wholeness and holiness. I laugh at the gloom, pull it from its fear-built pedestal, and knock it into smithereens. Yeah. Sometimes anger seems to work well for me. So there it is. My secret’s out at last. Thanks for letting me make my confession. I feel so much better now.

Alrighty. Carry on then…
– Karen

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I Wish You Nothing But Good

Revelation! 
I’m not angry, I don’t hate you – 
all that happened then –
the unfairness of it, the injustice –
was a part of the healing.  It was
all good – all of it – the people,
the place, the circumstances –
and it led to the healing – 
it brought me to the place
prepared for me – a place of purpose
and joy. And I see you now –
and my feelings are benign towards
you. I wish you nothing but good.
How could anger and hate ever
abide where there is healing?

panoply of Love

 

The Anger Pandemic and Its Antidote

Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I just watched a great video on YouTube (“This Video Will Make You Angry”) about the epidemic spread of anger thought-germs on the internet. This video got my “brain” sparking in all kinds of directions: I thought about some of the internet “conversations” I’ve gotten myself involved in the last several years; took a look at how internet dialogues have changed since I first began participating in them seven or eight years ago; compared some of the thoughts shared in the video with thoughts shared by Mary Baker Eddy back in the late 1800’s – long before the invention of the internet, but, I think, still pertinent today; and began looking around me for some good news – signs of hope and salvation from the anger pandemic that seems to be infecting the globe.

In the video, the narrator tells us: “Anger by-passes your mental immune system…The internet is the best thing to happen to thought-germs…The more they (anger-germs)  are shared they under-go the same process (as biological germs), changing and distorting to become more aggravating. These have a better chance of spreading than their possibly more accurate rivals.”

– Ohmygosh! I’m guessing we can all recognize the truth of those words! According to this video there are two emotions that are highly contagious to humans – anger and awe. Anger and awe are almost irresistible. When anger or awe go hopping by us we are like the dog in Up! and…squirrel!  – we have to look, right?

The narrator in the video continues: “Once everyone agrees (on something), it’s hard to keep talking (about it)… but if there’s an opposing thought-germ then the thinking doesn’t have to stop. The more visible an argument gets, the more by-standers it draws in – which makes it more visible. These thought germs aren’t competing, they’re cooperating… working together they reach more brains… Thought-germs on opposite sides of an argument can be symbiotic… its divisiveness also  grows its symbiotic partner… gaining more allies also gains more enemies… Though the participants think they’re involved in a fiery battle to the death, from the anger germ’s perspective one field is a field of flowers and the other a flock of butterflies… ”

– I suppose most of us would now agree that the earth is roundish. Can you remember the last time you got in an in-depth conversation about the roundishness of the planet? No, right? We don’t generally talk about stuff we all acknowledge as true. But I can guarantee that if there suddenly appeared a large group of people – not outliers, but a mainstream group – that rose up and declared the earth was flat, there’d be a hot fiery debate about it all over Facebook. Flat-earthers would be calling round-earthers arrogant and smug, round-earthers would be calling flat-earthers ignorant and stoopid, and the oblate-spheroid-earthers would be denouncing everyone but themselves as unrealistic fuzzy thinkers.

The narrator continues: “When opposing groups get big they don’t really argue with each other, they mostly argue with themselves about how angry the other group makes them… We can actually graph fights on the internet to see this in action – each becomes its own quasi-isolated internet – sharing thoughts about the other…each group breeds thought-germs about the other…the group almost can’t help but construct a totem of the other so enraging they’ll talk about it all the time…”

– And don’t we see this in politics ALL THE TIME?!! Republicans are this. Democrats are that. Socialists are the other. And don’t even get me started on the Libertarians. 🙂  We take a certain pride in our alliances and our loyalty to our team. And we insulate ourselves from other perspectives and hang out with our own group. We lump everyone who belongs to another group into one monolithic unit – no longer seeing individuals – and rant about the short-comings of everyone who isn’t “us.” In short, we become bigots.

The narrator ends the video with these thoughts: “It’s useful to be aware of how thoughts can use our emotions to spread… If you want to maintain a healthy brain it pays to be cautious of thoughts that have passed through a lot of brains… it’s your brain – be hygienic with it.”  

– And this brings me to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In her Miscellaneous Writings, Eddy writes: “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.”

And in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy writes: “The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.”

I have found this to be true. 🙂

 “We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it, – determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant, nor even when it is…” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Learn to Talk to People You Disagree With”

“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger

I remember on Election Day when I was a little girl my mom and dad would go off in a car together to vote. My Dad supported one political party, and my mom supported another – but they cheerfully got in the car together and went to the polls to cancel out each others’ votes. They weren’t angry with each other because they disagreed about politics. They didn’t yell at each other, call each other names, cuss each other out, or think the other person was somehow an inferior human being – lacking in intelligence, reason, logic, and good sense. Nope. They loved each other. They respected each other. Although they’ve since then become members of the same party, at that time, they totally disagreed with each other about American politics – and it was alright.

They were a wonderful example to me.

Although one of my parents was, then, a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, although one was religious, and the other not – they shared the same values. Both my parents valued honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, fair play, compassion, the beauties of Nature, and having a good sense of humor about oneself. They brought their children up to value those things, also.

Here are some useful things I learned about the exchange of ideas and opinions from watching my parents interact with each other:

  • Be kind.
  • Play fair.
  •  Laugh at your own nonsense, before you laugh at someone else’s.
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry is the most important thing you can contribute to a conversation.
  • Avoid hearsay.
  • Don’t assume that a person is lacking in intelligence or reason just because he or she disagrees with you.
  • Listen.

I’m really grateful I grew up with the parents I did. I think it would be a marvelous thing if everyone treated each other with the same respect my parents gave to each other as they drove off to the polls on election day.

Rules of Engagement

Note to Self: Turn off the News and Wake Up

Last night as the family sat around the television watching the evening news, our son Xander suddenly stood up – like he’d just awakened from a dream or something – and, shaking his head to clear it, said, “What the hell just happened there? We went from, like, 20 reports of death and mayhem to winning a prom date with Seth Rogen…”

We all started cracking up, but after we’d stopped laughing, I started thinking about what Xander had said, and it gave me pause.

Lately it’s felt to me like… well, like our society is under some kind of mass hypnotic spell or something – like there’s this sort of slow-boiling rage and fear continually swirling around us now. I’ve felt it in myself when I’m trying to negotiate traffic to get to work on time – this impatience with the drivers around me who aren’t doing what I think they should be doing to allow me to progress in a timely fashion. And I’ve seen this rage and fear played out on the television, too – ads about painful and debilitating diseases that pharmaceutical companies run to try to sell their drugs (which, the ads admit with a soothing-voiced narrator, sometimes bring on worse side effects than the original disease) – political campaigns based solely on the negative traits of the opponent, shootings in our local schools, quarantines of people who aren’t actually sick but happened to have traveled from the wrong continent, horrific accidents involving drunk drivers and texters. And it’s occurred to me that my society is being mass hypnotized – being controlled through fear by folks who want to sell their drugs and their politics. It really stinks.

I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to wake up.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Lulled by stupefying illusions, the world is asleep in the cradle of infancy, dreaming away the hours.” And “The press,” Eddy writes,  “unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought. A new name for an ailment affects people like a  Parisian name for a novel garment. Every one hastens to get it.”

I’m thinking it’s time the world wakes up from its “stupefying illusions”, turns off the television, unplugs itself from the nonsense on the internet, too, and takes a stand. In the words of Ma in Grapes of Wrath: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was though, for a while it looked as though we was beat, good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kind of bad, and scared too. Like we was lost and nobody cared… But we keep a-comin’. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out. They can’t lick us. And we’ll go on forever, Pa… ’cause… we’re the people.”

Right ON, Ma Joad!

fear 2