“Dick” had raged long enough (although he wouldn’t have used that term) until I said, “You’re really upset, aren’t you?”
“And I have good reason to be angry.” Dick had yelled about unemployment, the corrupt politicians and a lengthy rant that the pastor and members of his church had failed him. He went on a second verbal blast that included good chunks of profanity as well.
When his monologue finally ran down, I said to him, “I’ve learned something important about my anger. I’m willing to share it with you if you’d like.”
He knows I regularly write aphorisms — short statements that make a point with few words. “I can give it to you in one sentence.”
“I’m seldom angry about what I think I’m angry about.”
He stared blankly and I repeated my aphorism. “I don’t get it. I know what I’m angry about.”
“Do you?” I asked. I’ve known Dick for enough years that I can challenge him and he won’t swing that powerful fist toward my face.
He started complaining again — although I’d heard it the first time.
I held up my hand. “I wonder … I wonder if that’s what really upsets you.” I let those words hang for a minute before I said, “You’ve mentioned three things that make you angry. Maybe that’s correct or maybe …”
“Maybe they’re easy targets. Maybe they’re safe to get angry about.” I didn’t wait for Dick to refute my statements or to yell again. I told him about myself. “I used to get angry a lot, until I admitted that the object of my anger wasn’t always the true object.”
I figured out that most of the time I was angry at myself for making a blunder; sometimes I was angry at someone I loved; occasionally, I got mad at God for not making things go my way. Mostly, I was angry at myself for not being perfect.
I’m not sure Dick ever agreed with me; but then, I assume that if I tell the truth (as I see it) he can receive or reject it.