Did you ever get so angry that you wanted to scream? That's understandable because a Long Island day is full of triggers -- from rude drivers to computer glitches -- that can cause you to lose your temper and lash out. This week's clergy discuss ways to manage that anger with guidance from their teachings.
Rabbi Shalom M. Paltiel, Chabad of Port Washington:
Anger is bad 99 percent of the time. If we're angry at Nazis for mass murdering innocents or at ISIS for beheading people, that's the exception. Generally, however, anger is the antithesis of faith. The Talmud says, "One who angers is akin to idolatry" (Shabbat: 105). Faith in the true sense means that the Creator is also the director of the creation, and therefore ultimately nothing happens by itself. So what's there to be angry about? If someone hurts me, while that person needs to account for his or her wrongdoing, that has nothing to do with me; what happened to me was meant to happen to me; either as a lesson in life, a test of my character, an opportunity for growth, or otherwise for my benefit. To live with faith means to know that God is involved in my life, real time, minute by minute; bestowing life's blessings upon me, feeling my pain when I face challenges, giving me strength to overcome those challenges. With that view of life, I take everything that comes my way with a sense of joy, even if at times the joy is also accompanied by pain. There is a fantastic Yiddish saying, that was repeated very often by the Rebbe (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson): "Think good and it will be good." The Kabbalah teaches us that heaven is a mirror image of us, and when we live life positively and optimistically, it's a sign of faith and trust in the Creator and director of this wonderful world, and heaven smiles back at us.
The Rev. Keith I. Harris, presiding elder, Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church:
Scripture teaches us, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26) and I think we are bound to live by that creed. And as persons of faith, it is incumbent upon us to put our faith into action. We might dislike various decisions, we might not approve of unfair treatment toward others, or even ourselves, yet we are to channel our anger, if you will, properly through prayer, through meditations. And when I say meditations, I mean the reading of God's word. Those are the tenets of our faith that help us to stay on task. When Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple, he was angry but there was no sin involved. The result of our anger should not be sinful. When you harm someone, when you destroy someone's property, or their character, that becomes sin. In Ecclesiastes it says there's a time for everything under the sun and everything in its own season. We do have to allow time to cause healing to take place. Even in the midst of our anger, our focus should be to try to win others over. Civil disobedience is a prime example of what I'm talking about, and certainly Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi expressed that kind of behavior. They serve as good role models, and this is the manner in which we should handle or channel our anger. Once you channel your anger into doing positive things, you can overcome evil with good.
Faroque Khan, trustee of the board, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury:
As Muslims we follow the guidelines in our scriptures, which is the Quran, and then we follow the behavior and actions of the Prophet Muhammad -- the sunnah, which is what the prophet said and did during his lifetime. The Quran is very clear on this subject; there are several verses that say when people insult you or make you angry, you don't retaliate, you do something better, so that the person learns from your true behavior. (Q 3:134, Q 42:36-37) There are many instances in the prophet's life, and one which we teach our Sunday school students all the time is, that the Prophet used to walk and somebody used to throw dirt and garbage on him every day. Then there was a pause for several days when nothing happened, so the Prophet goes to this person's house and asks, "Are you all right?" For Muslims the response to anger/provocation is to respond positively. An example from Long Island: In Florida there is a pastor who a year ago wanted to burn 30,000 copies of the Quran on the 9/11 anniversary. At Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury we talked about it, and in response to this clear provocation we donated 30,000 boxes of food to the needy on Long Island. This is an example of what I mean when I say the Muslim response to insult and injury is to show better behavior.