A prophet once said, “Your anger is a gift.”
That prophet was Zack De La Rocha.
In this age of incivility, many crave civility as an ends in itself.
However, civility is a situational virtue. In many ways, civility is a bourgeois virtue. It protects the powerful and the comfortable, because uncivil behavior is a threat to them most of all.
Do not agitate. Do not criticize. It is not civil and nice. Martin Luther King’s Letter for Birmingham Jail was a response to those that that agreed with his goals but who felt that he was causing too much trouble. Those who said “wait” then now say “be civil.”
Now, some might say that this is hypocritical of me. Didn’t liberals like me criticize Glenn Beck for lacking civility? Well, some did. However, I never did. My issues with Bro. Beck were with the content of his views and message. Whether he was “civil” or not was irrelevant to me.Does civility have a place? Absolutely! Civility within families, within organizations, and amongst neighbors is a wonderful thing. Likewise, incivility is not a virtue in and of itself. It is sometimes appropriate, but it often is not. Surely it can be annoying. In many ways, that is the point. It should be used strategically.
Now, anger itself is not a virtue unless it is rooted in good ground. I would contend that we need more anger rooted in social justice. More specifically, we need anger rooted at injustice.
Additionally, we need to make a distinction between anger and hate. Loving our neighbor and enemy still applies. Injustice should anger us. We should not hate people. This requires a certain discipline which is rooted in moral firmness. This moral firmness can be rooted in a religious or secular philosophy. Roots are needed, but the nature of those roots are of minor concern to me.
The proper and the comfortable will surely disagree. They do not make me angry. However, I do laugh at their discomfort.