This is a profoundly meaningful thought that is much easier said than done. The dark reality, in some societies more than others, is that most people are perfectly happy to live amid injustice without anger. They only care about themselves and don’t want to “rock the boat.” Some are not permitted to express themselves freely while others in so-called free societies are never taught to question everything around them. The drink the ideological Kool-Aid.
Most importantly, the seeds of this mindset are planted in childhood, or not, sadly. A reverence for life, openness, tolerance, empathy, and compassion are some of the values that lead to the evolution of a world view in which anger is an instinctive reaction to injustice in all of its myriad forms.
This includes defending someone from a bully at the risk of incurring (usually) his wrath or putting out a roadside fire because it’s polluting and illegal at the risk of a conflict with the person who started it. On a macrolevel, it means criticizing the appointment of a self-confessed war criminal to a high-profile university position because one must always choose the side of the victims over the victimizers, or speaking out against a company that commits crimes against nature by polluting our environment.
For some of us, a minority, based on my experience, we have no choice but to embrace this sentiment with all of our being in thought, word, and deed. To live amid injustice without anger would be to deny our essence and forfeit our integrity, a thought too painful to contemplate. The world would be a much better place if more people took this observation attributed to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) to heart and lived it in their daily lives.
Realistically, because life is short and it’s not all about fighting these kinds of battles, large and small, we must all pick and choose our causes and refrain from tilting at windmills. While we are small in number, our power and the possibility of change for the better derive from our strength in numbers along the lines of Einigkeit macht stark (strength through unity). In my case, I learned about the power of the written word when I was university student. This sense of hope, along with something to do and something to love, is one of the “grand essentials of happiness” to which GW Burnap referred.
To follow this wisdom from Thomas Aquinas to its logical conclusion necessarily means to create enemies, the people who benefit and profit from injustice and immorality, in the spirit of May the bridges I burn, light the way! This is a cornerstone of a life well-lived.
NOTE: Just to be clear and for the sake of accuracy, the above meme has never been found in Thomas Aquinas’s writings. (Among other things, it doesn’t sound like what someone living in the 13th century would have said or written.) It is most likely a composite of what he wrote about anger and injustice in On Evil and his magnum opus, The Summa Theologica.
Shalom (שלום), MAA