Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Resentment: Serious Problem

There is a word in Korean often used when we direct our anger to another person or object without any reason: kicking a stone or some other 'innocent' object would be a familiar example. Recently, there have been reports of crimes causing harm to persons without any apparent motive on the part of the criminal. They appear to be random acts of anger perpetrated on someone for no reason, which has led many to fear simply walking the streets or being out at any time of the day or night. A priest, in a bulletin for priests, reflects on how this illusive but increasingly pervasive feeling is invading our lives, and a bit more often, he says, than we would like to believe.

A person at work, he relates, was scolded for doing something he shouldn't have done. It was a minor matter, but he was roundly reprimanded. Feeling gloomy and depressed, he left to take the bus to go home. It was raining and by the time the bus came he was soaking wet. On the bus, someone stepped on his foot, and when he arrived home, he found his two children fighting with each other, and looking around at their room all he could see was a mess. He blew up at them and, crying, they went to their room. In the kitchen his wife was preparing the dinner and, still filled with anger, he spoke angrily with his wife. Needless to say there was no peace in that family that night.  

He went to his room and reflected on the events of the day. He saw that his resentment toward his boss had carried over to his family, destroying the harmony that was present before he arrived; even the fighting of his children was a normal occurrence that would not have bothered him at other times. He quickly vowed to do something to fix the situation, and before long he was able to see himself honestly, which was God's grace working within him, as we Christians would like to express it.

Many of us have hurt others, but thankfully have realized it and made up for our insensitivity and the hurt we have given. Understanding what we have done is not difficult, but overcoming our self-centeredness and making amends is not so easy, and often requires an extraordinary act of grace, said the priest.

Everyone has the choice of following either our egotistical instincts or the voice of God, the choice often resulting in conflicting emotions. Our natural instincts may tend to move us in one direction and the voice of God in another. At times, what we call the voice of conscience leading us to do the good is not readily apparent.  Its influence on us, he says, will often depend on the disposition we have nurtured over the years.

Blocking out the voice of conscience, if we listen carefully, he says, will be the voice of our selfishness. Those who treasure material things and guide their lives without concern for others are going to have difficulty hearing the voice of conscience, and even if it is heard, he says, it will have little influence on their actions.

He concludes the article by saying that the tendency to be concerned about ones self is not bad; it is necessary for survival and for progress. But when that is the only voice one  hears then we are likely to have a serious problem, which often results in a life that is being interrupted continually by lack of peace and joy.

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