One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)
Workers are fighting around the clock in Nepal to extract trapped people from collapsed buildings. A teenage boy was pulled from the rubble Wednesday and the watching crowd broke out in cheers and applause. It was a compassionate riot!
The Nepalese people are thankful amidst tragedy.
Meanwhile different riots breaking-out in Baltimore, marches and demonstrations in Washington and New York are a spectacle of quite another tone….there is anger.
In the middle of an American tragedy – the death of persons in the custody of police – American forbearance is all but forgotten.
What is the difference between what is happening in Nepal, and what is going on in America from Ferguson to Washington? It is the distance between anger and compassion.
Both anger and compassion are strong emotions, and they are separated by light years in cause and effect. Anger tends to destroy when unchecked (as in the street rioting and looting we saw on Baltimore streets this week.)
But sometimes they are connected. Sometimes anger is driven by compassion, as in the national response in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Compassion for lost souls always evokes anger, and rightfully, when it is caused by power grabs and oppression.
But there is almost nothing more obscene than rioting and looting when the (supposed) provocation is righteous anger over oppression. This goes far beyond two wrongs not making a right; there’s nothing noble or epically-righteous about breaking into a mall to steal toilet paper or a TV.
It’s simply the release of emotion over pent-up frustration. It’s making somebody…anybody pay for the hurt we feel over injustice.
In our culture American anger comes too quickly these days. We are becoming the new caricature of people who claim to be peace-loving, and can’t wait to provoke a good riot.
Whatever happened to the virtues of patience and due process? A mob can be mighty, but uncontrolled temper can destroy quicker than most anything.
Here’s a bit of advice for all of us from the old Preacher, Solomon (a pretty smart guy) who said:
Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NLT)
If you’re itching to join in the fight against something, let me suggest fighting the terrible losses in Nepal. They could use a hand.
You might want to check out resources before you send a check to help in Nepal. Here is the United Methodist website with information on what we’re doing, and what we’ve already sent to help.
If you already know that and are ready to donate, go here; join a compassionate riot!