In general, in most of our lives, we probably do not get yelled at by other people too often. We also probably don’t do that much yelling at other people either. I don’t have kids, so usually if there is something that I really want to yell about it happens when I am sitting alone in my car driving. When I do get so agitated while driving that I want to yell about some other driver bothering me, I try to consider whether the other driver even knows if I exist, whether they are aware that they are frustrating me, and whether they will ever remember that they slightly inconvenienced my drive enough to make me angry.
These thoughts about anger and yelling at people came back to mind while reading over a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When Isengard fell and Saruman locked himself in his tower, Galdalf spoke to Pipen and said, “Strange are the turns of fortune! Often does hatred hurt itself!”
Being outraged often doesn’t lead to things we want. When we fly into a fit of rage, we usually don’t get people to do things that make us happy and fix the underlying thing that made us angry. When we hate people uncontrollably, we usually make things in our own lives just as bad as we make things in other people’s lives.
What anger and hatred do is reveal a weakness in ourselves. If I were to yell at someone while driving or try to insult someone, I would not be harming them, but really harming myself. I would be revealing that I am not a calm and collected person, but instead a hateful and angry jerk who has little self control and little ability to think of others. Hatred is meant to be outward and in some senses is intended to tear down another person, but instead it reveals a weakness in character that pulls us down and in our rage causes us to make poor decisions that harm ourselves more than others. Gandalf was spot on with his observations of an angry and bitter Saruman.
For more on outrage, check out an old post of mine about feeling superior by being outraged.