Rage is a dangerous thing. It’s tendrils curl around the most logical parts of a person, shutting them down and taking over. Eyes see hazes of red; ears heat; nostrils flare; mouths unwittingly twist up to snarl; and fists clench. This wild and unpredictable emotion, and its physical manifestations, have caused much destruction and chaos in our world. But it is something we have all experienced.
Personally, most of my outrageous moments occurred when I was a kid. As an only child, I was a vacillating sharer and downright unruly when things didn’t go “my way”. I remember a time, during the summers of my elementary education when I attended Kidz Kollege at Jackson State University, where I had a full out tantrum. I no longer remember what I was upset about, but, sure enough, rage filled my child-sized body like a tempestuous storm. I screamed and stomped around only to sit and roll around when that didn’t work. I was definitely too old and should have been more mature than to “show my butt” like that, as our elder mothers would no doubt say.
To be truthful, I still get upset from time to time. I am not immune to the symptoms of humanity. But now, one would be hard pressed to ever know from my body language if I were upset. There are less people than the fingers on one hand who know from the inflections of my voice that I may be a bit perturbed. There are even fewer who know that my silence is a tell-tale sign that I’m holding back my emotions. Well, I guess anyone who reads this will now know, lol.
I’m not sure my reticence is entirely a just remedy for balancing life’s situations. But, one thing that I keep in mind is the first part of Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry, and sin not” (KJV) or “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’” (NLT). I’m still working on the second part – “Don’t let the sun go down while you’re still angry.” Once anger has crept up on me, it stays for a while like we’re catching up on old times. Because of that, I usually just try my best not to get angry at all. The quicker I let it go or seek some sort of resolution, the quicker I find peace of mind.
Peace. This concept is one of the true goals of life. And I believe it is more obtainable than happiness. Happiness has too many variants and is too mercurial to readily grasp for consistent amounts of time. But peace. Peace is for the individual and the whole. The sum and the parts. Peace engenders a wholistic look at oneself and collective work and responsibility with others. It chooses the greater good over selfish desires. It chooses meekness over pride.
Even though some may have seen my father as a person who, often times, found himself in contentious situations, no one can doubt his love of community and desire for justice. Though he was radical in many ways, he often sought peace. My mom believes that it was in his search for it that he tried to speak it into existence, even to calm his own outrage for injustice. He and I used to say “Peace” instead of goodbye, and even today, I keep that practice going.
Now, finally, we come to the point of this soliloquy. Our government officials, whom we – the citizens of Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi, the United States – have elected, have a duty to continually, continuously, consistently, and diligently seek to resolve issues that arise so that the constituents that they represent are reaping the benefits of their vote.
And there isn’t much an elected official can change if he or she is forever at odds with those he or she has to work alongside. There isn’t much work being done for those who really need it. And, quite honestly, it’s embarrassing to see public displays of contention that rival a middle school playground fight. A little further down in Ephesians (4:29 KJV), it says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
There is too much crime in Jackson that is the result of individuals not being able to effectively use conflict resolution tactics. If the recent events within the greater Jackson political system are any indication, many of our leaders aren’t setting any real precedent for people to make intelligent decisions in conflicts.
However, from the looks of it, being an elected official is not easy. The mounting stresses of dealing with issue after issue – personally and professionally – seems like the antithesis of peace. But at some point, peace has to be a more available weapon in a person’s arsenal than rage is. Rage is a semi-automatic gun that shoots multiple rounds of venom all around and in a way that doesn’t care who is hit. Peace is a steady, sturdy staff – one that, in Biblical terms, has been used to support, guide, and to yield righteous power through wisdom and divine direction. Come to think of it, it was only used once out of turn and that was when Moses was angry and struck a rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded.
Nonetheless, choose wisely. Rage or Peace. The citizens of Jackson deserve the latter. And the future of our city and its surrounding areas can’t afford much more conflict if it intends to survive and flourish.