Friday, April 28, 2017

Feeding the Fire of Anger and Animosity

On Monday two thirteen year old boys inadvertently set a playground constructed out of wood on fire here in Juneau, Alaska.  The fire took hours to contain and suppress and in the end the playground was burned to the ground and was completely destroyed.

As might be expected, feelings have been running high.  My wife Paula wrote a thoughtful and compassionate blogpost about the fire and the children who accidently set it.

I looked at the photos of the fire in the newspaper and on-line and remembered how St.Dorotheos of Gaza compared anger and animosity to a fire which begins with a small spark and then, if unchecked, quickly gets out of hand and becomes a blazing conflagration.

We live in a time of so much unchecked and bitter anger.  It's all around us.  The wrathful, far from being embarrassed by their angry words and actions, appear, convinced of their own rectitude, to exult in their righteous indignation.

But St. Dorotheos, quoting the desert father Abba Zosimos, writes:
"If at the beginning of a dissention, when there is first smoke and sparks begin to fly, if a man forestalls it by blaming himself and humbling himself before he gets drawn into a quarrel and gets into a temper, until, not remaining tranquil but wrangling and becoming reckless, he acts like a man who is piling wood on a fire which gets hotter and hotter until he has made a great blaze ."

Contributing to that great blaze, feeding the fire of rancor and animosity, whether in our personal and family relationships or in our political and social life that we must avoid, even, or especially, when the stakes are as high as they are.


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