“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
We all experience incredible pains throughout our life. We are vulnerable creatures, capable of deep hurt and suffering. When other people hurt us, it seems natural to carry resentment or anger toward them. However, anyone who has ever tackled that kind of anger understands that this kind of burden is deeply corrosive to your happiness. Poison is a powerfully illustrative metaphor for anger. You carry it inside of you and it sours your perception of the world. Soon you begin to infect others – lashing out – causing harm – spreading the weight of the burden you carry.
Carrying anger toward another human being destroys your ability to think rationally. It destroys your inner sense of peace and order. Most importantly, happiness is made unreachable to the holder ofany great anger.
And what does it solve?
Anger is never a means to any practicable end – except more anger. Only by letting go of our anger, resentment, and grudges can one ultimately reconcile with others – and with the inner disorder created by resentment.
At the core of the above truth is another truth – implied by the logic of this arrangement.
If anger and resentment are not solutions to our interpersonal difficulties then necessarily it follows that forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion, and empathy must be the means to bridging the gaps in our relationships.
Anger can be a useful reaction. It can provide us valuable information about the way another’s actions make us feel. The problem comes when the anger ceases to be useful and only obstructive. Firstly – at a point it becomes obstructive to our own inner happiness and peace, secondly – it becomes destructive to our relationships with others, and finally – it prevents any true reconciliation with the one who hurt us to begin with.
But why would we reconcile with the person we are angry with?
We must never forget the inherent humanness of even our most vilified enemies. All people in all times are just as human as we are now. They carry inside of them that undefinable irreplaceable spark of consciousness that makes us what we are. At the root of all violence and offense that we may endure is a basic insecurity and human need that is not being fulfilled properly.
That said, certain behaviors are not to be justified. They are not to be explained and endured. We cannot accept murder without consequence. Justice has a very tangible place in the natural order of our world.
When searching for the practical solutions to the achievement of inner peace and the resolution of spiritual or personal discomfort it is a time tested truth that forgiveness and reconciliation is one of the only means to this end. And this does not mean that we release our unfortunate attacker from the consequences of his actions. We may still refuse association to those whose behavior offends us. We may still seek social recourse to those who cause us harm.
On a personal level though – if we are to ever find real resolution and peace, there must be healing – there must be forgiveness – there must be empathy.