Resentment unites anger, fear, and sadness in a kind of closed-circle, scissors-paper-rock game. In the absence of resentment, anger, fear, and sadness tend to heal each other. Anger can act like scissors, cutting through fear–the fear that like an enveloping shroud wraps itself around and threatens to smother the rock that is sadness. But that very sadness, which rises from the realization of our own transience and the ultimate futility of our human efforts to control, is the only tool we have to blunt anger–to forestall the resentment that anger becomes if it is nourished even after our fears have been quelled.
Anger and sadness butt against each other, steel against stone. But just as scissors “take” paper and rock “takes” scissors, sadness will finally take anger–if we let the sadness through. For sadness, shared, can heal. Anger storms in the hard passage between fear and sadness; cultivated, it turns into a jagged resentment that tears rather than trims and that resists healing. Denying fear and scorning the sadness that is shared, resentment refuses the possibility of going through and beyond the anger into forgiveness.
The danger of anger … lies not in anger itself, but in resentment, the clinging to and prolonged attachment to anger. Resentment is the refusal, out of fear, to cross the bridge of sadness and let ourselves back into the impermanent world of relationship. Anger as resentment refuses relationship, slashing at everything and everyone that comes close. But our pain can be healed only by some kind of closeness, some kind of connection with others. Sadness opens us to the need for unity and community.
From The Spirituality of Imperfection
By Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham
“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’
“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
Jesus of Nazareth
From the Gospel of Luke
Chapter 7, Verses 31-35
Thank you, Dr. King, for allowing sadness over the pain you saw in the world to connect you with others in community and in turn to fight through peaceful means for a love that could conquer all. Wisdom was indeed vindicated by your words and deeds.
And praying that you, my daughter, would continue to learn how to allow sadness to blunt any anger in your heart, leading you into deeper relationships, with God and others, so you can experience communities of love that can change your world and vindicate wisdom by your words and deeds, no matter what people may call you.