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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dealing with Offence and Outrage

A trick for young players or those sickened by confounding injustice, the practice of outrage reveals the folly of the emotions gone berserk—unaccountable to the adult mind. Anyone who would seek wisdom must reconcile urges to outrage.

The Conrad Murray trial, in relation to the Michael Jackson death, might be one salient example where outrage serves little real value. Yet, we only need to watch nightly news bulletins to see plenty of evidence of media-frenzied and world-enraged emotion as current affairs programs are aired.

Warrants to outrage divulge themselves in two paradoxical and negative ways:

1. We Become the Offended

There is perhaps no more common a human emotion, at weak moments, than offence over things that anger and disgust us. And still, some live to be offended.

Offence equals foolishness. That is a broad biblical principle. No matter what happens to us we can respond beyond offence; it is either by the spiritual presence of grace, or the ability to revert to the higher mind—the simple practice of delaying reaction for momentary reflection upon the possible consequences of our reactions.

When we are tempted to become offended we can know we’re being deceived.

Instead of becoming offended there’s a better opportunity; to contemplate any reasonable affirmative action we might take—much of which may be beyond us, if at a more global scale—and to learn to accept many things, despite our frustration, are beyond our control.

2. We Become the Offender

Something occurs within the offended that makes them respond as the offender. Hurt people hurt people. The abused become the abuser, if they do not sort out their aggrieved emotions; that level of fair-minded offence that trips us up.

Anyone who has been abused has reason to feel offended; but an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth won’t fix anything.

Stopping the cycle of offence, not being deceived by outrage, might be as simple as knowing that all things are not what they seem. We should walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We know this by the wisdom of how things turn out; as we reflect back with hindsight all too often we have been deceived.

What do we really lose when we refuse to offend back?


Both outcomes of outrage have significantly negative consequences. These compel us, if we are of a sensible mind, to think of better options to make situations right. Outrage is a waste of energy; imagine the power for change if that energy could just be harnessed.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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