Anger can be righteous, when we are wronged, when somebody we care about is wronged, or when we see injustice carried out.
Anger is a high-energy state. It tends to either dissipate or harden, metastasize, into a lower energy state … like contempt.
Anger is an emotion of engagement. An angry person will push, even fight for change. Angry people are still in dialogue, still in relationship.
When that hardens to contempt, all that goes away. People are written off as incorrigible, as useless, as bad people, as worthless, as less than, as unclean, as other.
As Richard Beck noted in his book Unclean, contempt is the emotion of separation, of dehumanization, the emotion that chokes empathy and hospitality, and justifies all manner of abuses and cruelties.
So fight for your anger. Hold onto our until you are ready to let go and forgive. Don’t let it turn into something vile and cancerous, something that takes settles into your heart until it feels like it belongs there.
But forgive quickly, and give yourself some distance to heal, because there’s another emotion that can take hold, a high energy state even more destructive than contempt:
And we can’t let that one in. It’s the worst devil of them all.