“We praise a man who feels angry on the right grounds and against the right persons and also in the right manner at the right moment and for the right length of time.”
As a youth growing up in Kissimmee, Florida I did not have many neighbors. Our driveway was the last one off a small country road that dead ended about 200 feet past our driveway. There were tall weeds and dog fennels on each side of the road and it seemed to be a favorite place for people to go “parking”.
One evening we noticed a car was parked there and we decided we would surprise the occupants. We took some large sparklers that you might have on the 4th of July and lit them and hurled them into the darkness. We were ready to run but when we heard the clunk of one of them hitting the car we really started running.
If that wasn’t enough to send us scattering, the car started and the tires screeched in reverse. We were all spilling onto my parents’ property at this point and the car did not hesitate to tear right into my parents’ driveway and right up to the front of the house. I remember jumping over the hedges along the driveway to get out of the way.
As it turns out, my mother was standing outside the front door of our home saying goodbye to my older sister and her date who were getting ready to leave. The offended parker jumped out of his car and started yelling and cussing at my mom about the damage to his car and who was going to pay for it. The other occupant of his car, whom I assume was his date, just sat in the car very quietly. We all straggled to the front of our house to witness this all the while trembling in our shoes.
What followed was one of the proudest moments of my life. My mom became Sasquatch. Whatever was going through that young man’s mind when he jumped out of that car was squished in a hurry. I do not remember her words but she lit up and began to spew fire. “How dare you come into my yard and talk like that”….it started and didn’t stop until the young man sought refuge in leaving. I have never really seen her lose her cool like she did that night…and it was very effective. I was so relieved. Her wrath descended and she leveled the playing field and then tipped it in her favor. She told him that if there was damage that she would pay for it. I do not believe that we ever saw a bill.
Is it ever okay to “lose your cool” or raise your voice in righteous indignation? There are plenty of teachings that encourage us to remain calm and collected under all circumstances. I agree generally with this counsel though it is a skill that requires effort to develop.
However, I also think there is a time when channeled anger from the voice of one who is wise and balanced may be just what the situation needs to get things back under control. Sometimes a football coach needs to give everyone an attitude adjustment that is best delivered at a higher volume than normal. Sometimes it just makes sense to use that power of persuasion that comes through your sight and hearing but only reaches your brain when it has been delivered with intensity.
For maximum long-term effect the wise and balanced person who takes this route will also afterwards try to show an increase in kindness and attention to those affected by the intensely given direction. In this manner there is an increase in understanding and respect between the two parties. I do not believe that my mom was looking for any long-term effect with the young man who was standing in her yard but she may have accomplished it. He left our home quiet and I am sure embarrassed. I doubt he chose our neighborhood again to go parking.
HighFive Your Life Principle: Sometimes the intense voice of righteous indignation has a place in our lives. A reassuring voice of love and kindness afterwards works best for long-term results.