The Idiot Experience of Righteous Anger

The Idiot Experience of Righteous Anger July 3, 2014

Last night, I came home from the store after dark to find that someone had left the garage door hanging open again. This is a raw topic for me, because the garage door is left hanging open with uncanny frequency, no matter that I’ve reasonably requested closing the door many times after the children have extracted their bicycles and toys.

So, in my righteous indignation, I stomped out to the garage, and slammed the door shut, then slammed it again when it didn’t stay shut, and finally, I slammed it a third time, saying “Damn door!” for good measure as I pulled it tight to hear the latch click.

That will teach em.

One toad was harmed most certainly in the making of this photograph.

This morning, my five-year-old came into the kitchen mumbling in a tiny voice about “Poor little toady, toady, stuck in the door,” and sure enough, when I went out to the garage, there was the fat old toad that has lived under our trash can for the past month, mouth agape, skin leathery, with its back pinched in the door jamb.

And this is the problem with righteous anger and indignation. I’m not a toad-hater, in fact, I liked this particular toad very well indeed. I would sometimes talk to him when I took the trash out, and gently nudge him out of the way if he happened to be in it.

When I found the door hanging open, in flagrant disregard for house policy, I had every “right” to be angry.

When people lose their temper in argument, they like to say that Jesus experienced righteous anger when he threw the money-changers out of the temple, and that therefore, the rest of us sinners are entitled to anger when we judge a disrespect for holy things.

The thing is, Jesus’s anger was without sin. He could judge the intentions of the money-changers with the wisdom of the ages, and with the foresight of the Lord he knew that no innocents would be harmed by his rebuke.

The rest of us have no such wisdom. And it’s usually only in hindsight that we see, how in our anger, we’ve inadvertently smashed one of the little guys.

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