Martín gave me a book of quotes on Sunday, because he knows I love quotes, and the day before I had seen one I particularly liked in the wine country.
I randomly opened the book and saw this quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, from his Nicomachean Ethics:
“Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
It took me a moment to absorb the message, and then I realized that it was something I really agree with. Our culture often tells us that anger itself is bad, and modern psychology has countered that it is an important and useful emotion. So we are now taught to express our anger when we might previously have suppressed it. The trouble is we are not very practiced at it (probably because of all that suppression), so we overcompensate and blow up with bad timing, at the wrong person, for the wrong reasons. This doesn’t mean we should avoid anger - it just means that we should understand it better.
Aristotle is expressing what Inside Out (the new movie from Pixar that I love) might say: anger is one of our emotions; it is useful in the right place and time.
I hear you saying, but aren’t we meant to love and not hate? To which my answer is: what
has anger got to do with hate? Anger, rightly employed, can be a manifestation of the deepest commitment to a cause or a person. Sometimes anger is exactly the right response to a situation, and no other response will do. In her book, The Alphabet of Avoidance, Lisa Borden says:
“If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention.”
So reflect on how you employ anger. Think about Aristotle, and Inside Out, and Lisa’s aphorism. Anger can be a good thing: it releases energy, it motivates, and it helps to make the world a more just place.
Oh, and if you were wondering what the quote I saw and loved in the wine country was, it comes from Winston Churchill – source of many of the best quotes of the 20th Century:
“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne.”
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From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.