Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.
But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. . . . As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:8, 12-14
“As Maine Goes, So Goes the Nation,” was a phrase from awhile back that described Maine’s uncanny ability to serve as a bellwether for presidential elections. This time around, Hillary Clinton won 48% of the vote in Maine, to Donald Trump’s 45%. Still, Maine may turn out to be a different sort of bellwether and, in that regard, let us hope and pray that that turns out not to be true.
Maine has a governor who likes to “speak his mind” and “tell it like it is.” He governs mostly through bullying, blustering and throwing tantrums. He has offered many statements and pronouncements that indicate that he’s a sexist, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe—you get the picture. He also limits access of the press. Sound familiar?
Despite the fact that Maine’s Governor is in his second term, the situation is no better for the poor, the vulnerable, the unskilled, etc. and is probably worse in most instances. The situation might be a little better for the wealthy, as they have benefited from the tax cuts that have been “paid for” through cuts in services and revenue sharing.
Yet, the angry seem to love Governor LePage. Anger, though, it turns out, doesn’t get things done and it doesn’t actually make the lives of the angry any better.
Governor LePage tends to speak before he listens. He declares before thinking. He relies on unproven assumptions. Many of his opinions are based in old stereotypes that are not true, and probably never were. He’s suspicious of those “from away” (and that means anyone not from Maine) and closes himself off from anyone who might pull him away from his tidy, comfortable nest made up of the sticks and stones he likes to throw at people who dare to disagree with him.
Yet, the angry of the state seem to love the Governor, and are drawn to his “telling it like it is” and “speaking his mind.”
Maine offers an important object lesson: anger doesn’t translate into good or effective governing. Let us hope that Mr. Trump chooses a different path for governing and doesn’t follow his new friend Paul LePage.
The Bible offers many verses that remind us of the corrosive nature of anger and the foolishness of allowing anger to be one’s guide. There are things that happen in life that can lead to anger, sometimes even a completely appropriate righteous anger. The problem seems to be when people get settled in their anger, when anger itself becomes the soothing balm, instead of understanding anger as a first step on a path to solve problems that includes the one who is angry.
Though Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to know much about the Bible, perhaps some of those who do who voted for him will find the wherewithal to begin to consider the role of anger in our country. And now that we have a whole new segment of angry people, in those whose candidate did not win the White House despite winning a significant percentage of the popular vote, we ought to take heed of the ancient advice offered in scripture and to reflect on the anger that has gained a significant foothold.
The way forward is likely not going to be easy. There will be anger. And some of that anger will be justified. But, anger cannot be the end or the goal. Anger cannot become the place of comfort, our refuge in times of trouble. The Bible holds significant and serious cautions in regard to anger. May we take heed before anger gets the best of us.