Wednesday, September 18, 2002

STAYING ANGRY
There's been a lot of talk about how whether or not it's appropriate to to show graphic representations of the horror of 9/11 in the media. This has picked up again with the "woman hitting pavement" statue in Rockefeller Center.

On the one side, people say graphic depictions are exploitive of the victims.

The other side is represented by a writer to the Corner, who writes , "Let the statue stay- I want to remain angry." This has been a theme for James Lileks lately. Bring on the graphic images, lest we forget the horror of that day, and let go of our anger.

But you know what? I don't want to "remain angry." Yes, the anger I and others felt and still feel is real and should not be discounted. But it's not pleasant, and it's not what I want to live with for the rest of my life, and I don't think my desire to let go of my anger is some sort of affront to the victims. Our natural anger must run its course, but we don't need artificial reminders to keep our anger at a fever pitch.

Anger is not a destination -- it must lead us somewhere. People like to cite Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple as an example as righteous anger, and it was, because it led Him to act against injustice. But He wasn't griping about it months later, the incident ended there.

That's why I was so moved by the Holy Father's words of prayer for the terrorists. We don't have to forgive the terrorist for them; we have to forgive them for us. Hanging on to anger puts us in a place, like the servant in last week's parable, where we are unable to recieve grace. It's not a good place to be, and not a place where we shouild want to be. It's neccesary for us to acknowledge our anger, and move through it, not trying to find short cuts, but we don't need to do things to stay there.

Another writer to the Corner made this point well, in responding to comments about grace and forgiveness -- "Refusing to forgive is like taking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”

Maybe forgiving the unrepentant is "cheap grace" (even though all grace is intrinsically unearned) for those who have harmed us, but opens us up to real grace, grace which we have worked to dispose ourselves to receive. I'd rather see a million people get "cheap grace" because I forgave them too quickly, then deny myself the grace that I cut myself off from by refusing to forgive.
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