Thursday, June 6, 2013

An Angry World: Remembering How To Forgive And Forget

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."


I know people that can stay angry for a long, long time.  I'm not talking hours, I'm talking years.  Do you know how much energy it takes to maintain a grudge?

My wife and I have had somebody angry with us for more than ten years now.  No idea exactly why.  There was a dispute between us over some land we wanted to buy, and angry words were exchanged going both ways.  But Valerie and I decided it wasn't worth a huge fight.  We didn't buy the land, which is exactly what she wanted.  She won.  Problem solved, right?  No.  She's still angry over winning the dispute.

We thought she'd get over it in time--she hasn't.  She works very hard to make us feel uncomfortable whenever we're around her.  She won't even acknowledge me by looking at me, or responding when I say something to her.  She rolls her eyes and sighs when either of us speak.  It's embarrassing--especially when there are other people around.  It's classic passive-aggressive behavior.  But we've put up with it for years because we thought eventually, she'd come around. You can imagine how fun it is to be around her.  

Of course as anger always does, it finally sparked more anger.  Last time I saw her, I'd finally had enough of the childish behavior--she'd had enough time to get over it, and I was sick of it.  She was trying to embarrass me in front of other people as usual.  I blew up--it had been building for a long time. I finally said a few things I'd been wanting to say.  I'm not proud of it, but that's what happens.  Anger only creates more anger.  We finally had to accept she's never going to get over it, and we've moved on--she's no longer part of our life. We're not angry about it--it's sad.  She's damaged a lot of lives by harboring anger.  I'm not sure what fuels that kind of negativity or what it was she was getting from treating us that way, but it's over.

We live in a very angry world today.  Just take a short drive down the interstate--see how many miles you can get before receiving a horn blast or a rude gesture.  I'll bet you almost everyone can tell a story like this about somebody in their family, somebody in their social group, or somebody they work with.

Do you know how much energy it takes to harbor that kind of anger and resentment in your heart for that long?  I just don't have that kind of time or energy to waste on something that serves no useful purpose--as Buddha pointed out, it only hurts yourself.  It does nothing but harm.  It makes a work environment a misery when there's that kind of resentment between two employees.  It breaks up friendships, it ruins families, and how many marriages.

Lots of people are able harbor grudges for a long time--for decades even.  Everybody gets angry--it's human, and it's inevitable for most of us.  But what you don't do with anger is hang onto it--you get rid of it.  You forgive those that have wronged you and move on.  And you apologize to those you've wronged.  It's not easy sometimes, but it is just that simple.  Life is too damned short to spend even one minute angry.

But there are some that just can't bring themselves to do that.  As Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel expected to be released in 2014. All of Todd E. Creason's books are sold at major online booksellers like and Barnes & Noble and are available for both Nook and Kindle.

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