GOB!G Quote of the Day

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Like Gandhi, be slow to anger

Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa are for me, the slowest of human beings. They’re people who maintain a snail pace – they’re not quick to anger, in fact, they’re very slow to anger. Read any of the official and authoritative texts about them, and you’ll get the same message I got, that these are ordinary man behaving and keeping themselves in extraordinary manners, particularly when it comes to interacting with others and even those who hurt them the most.

Today, there’re so many brazen pressures about us. Everything is quick quick quick and we’re busy busy busy and neglecting to nurture the best of character traits in us. To top that all up, our lifestyles (a rat race one at most) are burnout ridden. Day in, day out. We’ve adopted instant behaviours. Behaviours that are not at all cultivated and grown from within us with nurturing – like the six leaders I mentioned.

The result is that because they’re such instantly obtained behaviours, we’re instant and quick in using them – we lose patience fast. We’re fast to anger. We’re quick to judge. And by the same token, quick to lose things of value in our lives due to such instant, quick fix behaviours.

I thought to myself the other day that, when faced with difficult situations, especially ones where I’m interacting with others, I’ll ask myself: What would Gandhi do – would he be eye-for-an-eye about it? Would the Dalai Lama make swift, harsh judgement? Would Nelson Mandela put aside his ego and keep cool the situation and forgive? Would Mother Teresa throw a big tantrum in an instant outburst? Wouldn’t Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., instead of acting with force of anger, rather proclaim that he has a dream – that tomorrow this too will pass and the two would-be belligerents embrace each other? "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that," said King.

Without doubt, these people have consistently portrait some of the best character traits we know, and stealing a leaf from the books of ‘rules of engagement’ isn’t a bad idea.

With that in mind, wouldn’t one slow down the anger in them? I’m not claiming that that’s what I do daily when faced with angering situations. But I sure try and I did get it right on rare occasion. And without doubt, I’ve the opportunity, daily, to try and be patient and slow to anger. For anger is rarely ever justifiable, even if it’s in retaliation – Mandela and Gandhi certainly thought so.

Let’s face it, Anger does more damage inside us by waking the devil in us and giving them time to exercise and get stronger – for what ultimate purpose, I shudder to know. But I’ll also be first to agree that, anger sometimes may be necessary to push forward what we couldn’t otherwise have pronounced – but in that nature, it has to be extremely controlled, (hence, be slow to anger).

Regarding character and anger, wouldn't you agree that Dr King had it right when he proclaimed: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy".

So next time when you get an invitation to engage in anger, respond patiently to it. Take time filling in your RSVP. Be slow to get to anger mode.

"Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Ugo Daniels said...

You have just succeeded in echoing my thoughts on issues that abound today. It's a do or dies affair. You see workers hating their bosses, students wishing their instructors illness, etc. Everybody feels threatened if they don't give in to the occasional anger bouts. Unfortunately, people respond to situations differently.

Some are slow to anger, some don't get angry at all while some others get offended at the slightest provocation.

It all boils down to reaching an optimal level for our very expressions, either way!

Izz said...

You're right Ugo. Perhaps the best way to about it is to understand oneself and ones own weaknesses (past own past experiences with hurt friends and acquaintances) and then adjust accordingly from there. A rare case but true, some people just cannot be angered. Admiration!

Ishtar said...

I think it's a very personal issue; some people get angry far too much, others don't put their foot down when they should. Some are afraid of conflicts (but then don't stand out as genuine in others' eye) while others have a hard time letting go of their own will.

I know I personally have an easy time forgiving, unless someone has done me something really bad. And when I get angry, people don't want to mess with me. I have learned to control it, so even if I do find myself in a situation where my blood is boiling, I won't say anything. But people see that look in your eyes and they are terrified but your sharpness, even though you haven't said a word. In my case, self-control is not really the issue, but rather one of forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has done be something very wrong can often be next to impossible, but I know who to turn to when I finally realize that forgiveness needs to come about (for the sake of humanity, if not anything else!). God is the only one who can melt my heart in that situation, but if I just open up and listen to the whisper in my heart, my angers dissolves- for who am I to hold a grudge when he has forgiven me wholeheartedly?

I think its hard for those of us who have that heated blood to let go of our feelings and just forgive. But when you do humble yourself, take a step back and turn the other cheek - which is what Gandhi was talking about - you win something else, much stronger than what you get by holding on to your own anger.

Izz said...

I like your philosophy Ishtar, so deep yet so understandable. Forgiveness is easy because it comes natural in many occassions. It's forgiving those whom our hearts seem to detest to much, although our souls long to make peace with, to show love. And it's at that kind of extreme character test that what a person stands for truly comes out. It's in that moment of discomfort that you demonstrate your true character and let love find it's way.

And yes, sometimes we need to learn to say no - this time I'm stomping down my foot, that we're not going to be door-matted by someone less deserving of our goodwill - for otherwise such people may break us down and we may find it even heart to forgive those who have genuinely trespassed with us. But at most, letting go of harboured bad feelings, that bad acid which burns us inside too, is the best way forward, like Gandhi taught in his texts.

Amazing comment, it leaves me still thinking at this very early hour of the morrow.

Ishtar said...

So glad I could be of inspiration, Izz! Haven't been able to access your blog for a few days, but I'm glad it's up and running like normal again! Cheers!

Izz said...

The inaccessibility was due to my tinkering with it - I was attempting to migrate to www.izzonline.co.za and disaster nearly struck, but for now it will be running here.