Righteous Anger, Street Riots and St. Thomas Aquinas

A Time Magazine has on its front cover a black and white photo of racial rioting in the streets 1968 crossed off and 2015 written just below the caption. The magazine implies that not much has changed in human relations since then. 

Yes indeed it has not considering the way the life of the poor has been addressed in this country with money being poured on the situation over Thomas Aquinas perspective of love.

To date the Federal government has spent 40 Trillion dollars on Johnson’s war on poverty.  $18,000 is spent per pupil in the Baltimore school system. 84% of 8th grade graduates from the system cannot read a newspaper.   For $18,000 per student could not a child be able to recite Homer’s Illiad in Greek? This rhetorical question is an exaggeration while expressing righteous anger.

Some Baltimore families complained that with school closures their children would not have the school food programs available to them.  Will their children go hungry without the schools to feed them?

A mother pulls her son from the Baltimore rioting and begins to spank her son. Some observers praised the mother, some claimed child abuse.  Nevertheless she was not going to have her son be a victim on the streets of Baltimore. Was it love? Was it righteous anger of the mother? Others detected that her son was one of six children of multiple fathers.  Where were the fathers?  Before the 1960’s war on poverty, 70% of African American households had fathers in the home.  Today 17% have fathers in the home. The reason was that welfare benefits were given to single parent homes over those that were not.  The economic dominated over humanity.

 

 

 

 

Another group of protesters around the country are seeking $15.00 per hour minimum wage.  They say the economy should be a certain way for people to make a living wage.  However the economy is not what they think it ought to be but what the economy is.  Employers have a choice of hiring a minimum wage person in an entry position or a person with experience.  The employer understands to invest time and resources in training. When the employer is regulated to pay an entry level person more, as an employer he/she is expecting a skill set with more experience thus putting the non-experienced person to the bottom of the recruitment list or the employer passes the cost of the higher waged person to the consumer thus the “meal deal” becomes a “deal breaker” to the consumer wallet.

Today with all the welfare programs in place, aid for children, health programs, food stamps (SNAP) and other programs have calculated that one can acquire $35,000 a year in government welfare programs for a family with two children. Despite all this aid over 40% of Californians are on some government assistance program. Twenty six million people have been added to the SNAP program since 2009.

Yet there is anger on the streets.  There is anger from programs that are not working to lift the poor out of poverty and there is anger at the poor for apparently taking advantage of a system that is failing the poor.  There is anger that the piece of American pie is not available for all and there is anger that there are not more people creating more American pies.

These are the facts laid out for St. Thomas to evaluate an application of love to the anger about the overall problems of the poor.  Thomas said there are three causes of love: knowledge, goodness and similarity.

Without a true picture of a situation with facts it is impossible to seek goodness and similarity or empathy for the poor.  Christ came to change men’s hearts;  with a change of heart can come a change of the social environment for the better.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem because the people just did not get his message that if Israel would focus on God all would be well with them. Luke 14:41-44.  Two parables come to mind.  One is the lilies of the field Luke 12:22-34. God the Father knows all peoples needs and provides even more to them in unity with Him. The other parable is the Shrewd Steward. Luke 16:1-13.  The bottom line of the parable is that if people who are earning their bread in this world receive so much of a reward how much more reward would they receive if they added God to their work.

Booker T. Washington in the late 1800’s stated, “The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.”

Pouring government money on the un-loveable has not worked. Love pouring money on the loved was done by the churches prior to the 30’s depression. Can government love? Perhaps at a very local neighborhood level one can identify who is their neighbor.  Back in the 30’s when government welfare programs rolled out, benefits were distributed by local communities because local people knew who really was in need and who was not. In those days people had a sense personal pride and would seek to get off the welfare system as soon as they could.  St. Thomas would say that people embraced each other because they found similarity with one another.  In those days anyone could be next in financial need.  Families moved in with each other for their overall goodness.

There is a common misconception that all anger is bad. This is not the case at all, as a matter of fact, there is anger that is helpful and anger that is harmful.

In the New Testament two words are used for anger. One describes passion and energy, the other agitation. Christ energy and passion is love on the move.  St. Thomas would say the effects of love, embraced for others have four stages.  Unity with another, indwelling or walking in the other’s shoes, ecstasy of uplifted hearts united and zeal that one who is on a mission to make their environment a better place to live by helping others to change their hearts.  Righteous anger, which is something that results from a true injustice, is God given and a productive kind of anger. Because it is rooted in truth, it is the type of anger that propels and, pushes, and makes one get up and go solve a problem or right a wrong.

Mother Theresa said that she would receive the Blessed Lord in Holy Communion and then go out and find Christ wherever she could find him lying on the streets.  A reporter queried her that he could not do what she did for a million dollars and of course she replied that she could not either.

 

On the other hand, stewing in anger, produces nothing, eventually becomes sinful rage and doesn’t honor God at all.

Proverbs 14:29
“He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9
“Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.”

The productive kind of anger with love attacks problems, not people.  Christ like love, loves the loveable and the un-loveable equally.

The sinful kind of anger is wrapped in personal pride and comes from a place where some people are more important than other people around them.

Ecclesiastes 11:10
“So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.”

Ephesians 4
26. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Each of us play a role in other people’s anger. Never provoke others to anger.

Proverbs 15:1
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Don’t argue for the sake of arguing or just to make people think you are right.

2 Timothy 2:23-24, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

Next time you’re angry, test yourself to see which kind of anger you’re experiencing. Is it about correcting some injustice or is it just about you?

Ideaology address  Change hearts and the environment changes.  We all want love where ever it is.

The waters of life become more purified by running over the jagged mountain streams of suffering.

Effects of Love: Unity Indwelling ecstasy and zeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gods Love

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