Monday, November 03, 2008

Martin Luther King Jnr on Dealing with Anger

Authors Ed and Deb Shapiro are sensing plenty of anger in the American air.

They write in a pre-US election article, about the way
Nelson Mandela approached his anger and then they give this story from the life of Martin Luther King Jnr.:

As Michael Beckwith writes in our forthcoming book, Meditation Can Change Our World, “Rev James Lawson, who was a cohort of Dr. Martin Luther King, shared with me an experience when he and Dr. King were sitting in an auditorium and a man came up and said to Dr. King, 'Are you MLK Jr.?' and he said 'Yes' and the man spat on him. Dr. King took a handkerchief, took the spittle off of his suit, and handed it back to the man and said, 'I think this belongs to you.' He didn't hit the man, he didn't cuss the man out, he didn't say how dare you, he had this ability to just be in the moment."

It's not that anger is all wrong, it can be the expression of a passion for justice and fairness, for basic rightness, for what is appropriate and humane. But anger can also cause tremendous damage and hurt; it is described as a single match that can burn an entire forest. When we are angry our heart goes out of reach and we lose touch with our feelings.

Ed and Deb Shapiro, Ducks Don’t Do Anger, The Huffington Post, 30 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Martin Luther King Jnr. in the Birmingham Jail.