Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.
I have heard an elderly friend sayi
ng one thing a number of times.
“I will kill that fellow. I don’t
mind if I have to go to jail for it.” This is not a criminally inclined person saying it. But I
consider him a gentleman, a respected elder frie
nd. It is possible that
someone has done a grave
injustice to him or he believes that someone has committed a grave crime against him.
I understand the anger of the resp
ected friend. He is a public figur
e and he is in
contact with
many people. Still I believe that
on account of his terrible ange
r against his opponent he does not
want to get out of his own cocoon. His words and
the attitude be
hind those words proclaim that
he is not willing to try to unde
rstand his opponent and come to a
peaceful state of mind. On the
contrary, with the thought and
talk of murdering his opponent
he is feeding his anger and
enflaming it!
In the natural world when animals face dangers fo
r their existence they react in two ways. They
either attack their enemy or they run away
for lives. Their anger gives them the energy to
confront the danger in one way or
other. I enjoy watching the an
imal world in “Discovery” and
“Animal Planet” television channels. Usually most
animals run away for
their lives when they
see a lion or a tiger. Deer, gazelles and jungle buffa
los, even when they are grazing together in
big numbers, they run for their lives when they
see a lion hunting a prey
. But once I saw a herd
of jungle buffaloes chasing a mightly
lion in defense of their young ones.
The anger of animals in life-threatening situations
helps them either to conf
ront their enemy or to
run away from the enemy. The behavior of human bei
ngs is also similar to that of the animals.
But humans being intelligent, they
not only see the danger to thei
r existence but also see many
other threatening causes. They ar
e afraid of losing respect or
breaking relationships. They are
afraid also of losing their social
standing or perhaps their jobs.
They get frightened also about
failing in their business or not ge
tting the much desire
d object. They are afraid that people may
hate them or friends may avoid them…
There are many such sources of fright.
When any such situation arises the mind beco
me energized by nature. The nervous system
becomes stiff and tensed. The blood pleasure
goes up. And the person gets ready either to
confront the situation or
run away from the scene. But a pe
rson is an intelligent being. He/she
need not behave just like an animal. In a frightening or undesirable situation instead of getting
angry and acting emotionally person can look for
ways and means to defend himself/herself from
dangerous situations. But, unfortunately a pe
rson does not always be
have intellectually!
Let us take an example. In Mumbai on May
7, 2008 Amarnath Grover was attacked with sharp
weapons and was done to death. Th
e criminals cut into pieces
Grover’s body and burnt them. In
the case the Mumbai police have arrested a Ka
nnada actress living in
Mumbai Maria Monica
Susairaj and a Navy Officer M. L. Jerome Mathew
. Here we are confronted with two questions.
First, did the criminals faced with unexpected s
cene in a sudden burst of anger killed the victim
Grover? Some wild animals suddenly attack the en
emy in such situations
. Or, two, the criminals
plotted the crime in all its details and killed the
victim to get away from
an unwanted situation?
We do not know what actually happened. Let us hope
that the truth will come out sooner or later.
From these types of events and other personal e
xperiences we know that
a person’s anger could
turn out to be deadly. Overcome by anger
a person can knowingly or unknowingly commit great
crimes. But it is also true that an intelligent
person need not be overcome by anger. A person can
always control his anger. From be
ing a slave to anger a person can
become the master of his/her
Psychologists tell us that a person
can take certain concrete step
s to overcome his/her anger.
When a person gets angry in a sudden unexpected
situation, the person can count in his mind
slowly one to ten and regain peaceful mind and c
ontrol his anger. This way the person gets time
to respond to the situation intelligently instead
of giving automatic instant response. Well-known
American writer Mark Twain once wrote, “When you get angry, count one to ten and when you
are very angry, say some bad words.” Responding instantly at getting angry may lead one to
commit atrocious things which person may have to
repent later. But instead of acting on the spur
of the moment in anger, if a person takes time
to understand the whole situation causing anger
and his/her anger itself, then the person will have no occasion to repent later.
The golden path to control anger is awaren
ess and understanding. Animals do not have this
awareness and understanding. Becaus
e animals are not in
tellectual beings. Faced with unpleasant
events or unexpected attacks of one kind or
another a person may become angry. A person may
become angry with undesirable happenings confr
onting him/her. But a person can control his/her
anger becoming aware of and unde
rstanding the forces at work.
Let us take the example
of a drunkard father. His wife says th
at when he is not drunk, he is a
very good person. But when he comes home after
drinking, then there is no peace at home.
Beating wife and children and
loud wailing are the order. One da
y the son studying in a college
came back from hostel and found his father maki
ng a scene at home after getting drunk. The son
becomes very angry with his father. In his anger
the son scolded and criticized the father with
bad words.
When the father came to his senses, he felt very
bad that even his son ha
s dared to criticize and
scold him with bad words and he cried like a
child. When the son’s anger subsided he too
realized that he did not behave
properly in his anger with hi
s father. And he too cried and
repented his anger. The son was studying in co
llege with the money earned by the sweat of his
father. If he was a little more understanding, and if
he knew that the drunkardness was a sickness
and what was needed was treatment like any other
sickness instead of quarre
lling with his father,
he could have helped to improve the situation in
his family. This way there would not have been
any occasion for the father and son to repend and be sorry for themselves.
Here the story of the collegian son is very differe
nt from that of the elderly gentleman to whom I
reffered to in the beginning. The anger of that elde
rly friend is deadly. The anger of that person is
enkindled not on the spur of the moment. His
words reveal that he has thought about his
opponent’s crime against him and he has conti
nuously enkindled the flame of his anger and
cherished it. Now he sees the opponent’s crime as
a heinous one. So he thinks about murdering
his opponent and going to jail. I be
lieve that the gentle man would
not do such a thing. Still his
anger is real and knowingly or unknowingly he su
ffers from his anger. A person who cultivates
anger suffers bodily, mentally and spiritually.