According to the Gospel, the only form of anger that is clean of sin is righteous indignation. I think a lot about this, and it seems an appropriate topic to discuss following the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech, which is a shining example of righteous indignation.
I am angry a lot lately. It causes an increase in my existing anxiety, observable by my racing heart, difficulty breathing, insomnia, nightmares, stomach aches, back pain, and pretty much everything you could imagine that would make you want to pull the blankets over your head and never get out of bed. I try to tell myself to let the anger go. Let it go and the anxiety will go away. But what do we do when that anger is fueled by injustice?
No one ever said life would be fair. Believe me, 2013 has only thrown me enough bones to keep me afloat (I suppose personal flotation devices would make a better metaphor). It seems everywhere I go I am met by some radical injustice. This year, thanks to individuals, organizations, and the government, I have been extremely ill, poor, unemployed, slandered, extorted, and homeless, to name a few. Admittedly poor and unemployed were MY fault, yet how do I quell this righteous indignation?
You’d better believe I will be fighting that much harder for everyone to have their basic needs met. Our founding fathers promised us “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Well, shelter is a basic human need… but not every human can get it. Real food (not processed junk) and water are basic human needs that we cannot all find or afford. In the U.S. we certainly don’t all have the same rights in terms of staying alive, when one cannot get the healthcare he/she needs to stay alive because some company will not insure them and medicine is priced for the wealthy. Martin Luther King Jr. preached about racial injustice, but I believe that the injustice in our country will only continue to spiral out of control as we ignore the issues of those in poverty. The homeless don’t even have a place to pee without paying! There has never been a more basic human right than being able to pee without breaking the law!
When my anger starts to get really bad, I make a list of all of the blessings that God has bestowed upon me. It helps. One of those blessings is that I still have the ability to speak up for those whom justice is not serving. I urge you to do the same.