I enjoy watching the TV show “What Would You Do?” where people are confronted with dilemmas that at first make my blood boil, then wonder who will do something about the injustice happening right in front of them? There is always a bit of relief when John Quiñones appears and makes it known that it is a staged situation with actors playing the villains. But it never fails to make me ask myself: what would I do? In real life would I let my anger, mixed with compassion, empower me to take action? or sit still, walk by, and mind my own business?
Since I wrote my last blog on being “Angry at the Wrong Time” I have noticed many articles, blogs, and stories about how right it is to be angry at injuries and injustice done to other people.
Phil Marcin, OPA, recently wrote: “Remember Adam and Eve. When God confronted Adam about his sin, Adam said: “Eve made me do it.” And Eve said: “The Devil made me do it.” They both passed the buck. They accepted no accountability or responsibility. We often do the same–just talk or complain. We need to act. There are opportunities at home, at work, in our neighborhood, our city, our church, our nation.
Our country is suffering and divided. You and I need to work for greater civility; we need to work for compassion; we need to work for justice; we need to support adults and children seeking asylum from murder and violence and rape; we need to support families torn apart at our borders. What can we do? We can contact our representatives in Congress. We can vote. We can pray.
Last week a short paragraph in our Akron Beacon Journal alluded to an Instagram by actress Ann Hathaway, followed by an editorial by Dahleen Glanton quoted from the Chicago Tribune: “Until a couple of days ago, I had never heard of Nia Wilson. My introduction to her came from an unexpected source: the Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway. With a single Instagram post last week, Hathaway was able to push the story of this young African-American woman’s tragic death onto the radar of mainstream America more quickly and with greater impact than any one of Wilson’s own race could. That’s the astounding power of white privilege.”
Hathaway’s Instagram read: “The murder of Nia Wilson — may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here — is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence. She is not a hashtag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man,” Hathaway wrote underneath a photo of Wilson. “White people — including me, including you — must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS. White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence. Given those givens, we must ask our (white) selves- how ‘decent’ are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action? Peace and prayers and JUSTICE for Nia and the Wilson family.” To read this editorial, click here.
In his recent article in the New York Times, “The Virtues of Catholic Anger,” Father James Martin SJ encourages Christians in the face of the Pennsylvania abuse scandal, to use their rage to combat evil within the Church. He writes: “Anger is an important part of the life and ministry of Jesus. And so anger should be part of the Catholic life — with Jesus as a guide…Jesus’ anger is always a righteous anger, never on behalf of himself, but in reaction to how he sees others being treated.”
William Barclay wrote: “selfless anger can be one of the great moral dynamics of the world.” Anger fueled by compassion and active love can make heroes of ordinary people. There’s just one question: Will we let it?