The virtue of anger #Aquinas #RayMcGovern

In the Thirteenth Century, Aquinas wrote a lot about virtue and got quite angry when he realized there was no word in Latin for just the right amount of anger — for the virtue of anger. He had to go back to what Fourth-Century Doctor of the Church John Chrysostom said on the subject: “He or she who is not angry, when there is just cause for anger, sins.”
Why? Because as John Chrysostom put it, “Anger respicit bonum justitiae, anger looks to the good of Justice, and if you can live amid injustice without anger you are unjust.”
Aquinas added his own corollary; he railed against what he called “unreasoned patience,” which, he said, “sows the seeds of vice, nourishes negligence, and persuades not only evil people but good people to do evil.”

From an article called “The Moral Imperative of Activism” by ex-CIA agent Ray McGovern (whose “Ropes of Sand” was one of those influential books I read on my way through to the present)

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4 Responses to The virtue of anger #Aquinas #RayMcGovern

  1. pendantry says:

    ‘Ropes of Sand’ added to my reading list. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Sam Gunsch says:

    re: “just the right amount of anger”

    Finding the “amount”, and staying at that, is of course the trick:

    I’ve found it quite difficult to avoid fusing with my anger and becoming bitterly angry toward the Other Tribe.

    Dr. MLK’s approach has provided me with some helpful perspective and practice… outlined in posts found on Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler where he has habit of pointing out Dr. King’s approach re anger and tribalism and movements:

    Daily Howler excerpt: “Dr. King fought against “corroding anger” on the night his home was bombed. ”

    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.ca/2013/08/epistemic-enclosures-was-dr-king-right.html

    conclusion excerpt quoting King: ” I was once more on the verge of corroding anger. And once more I caught myself and said: “You must not allow yourself to become bitter.”

    excerpt: “Was Dr. King right as a general matter? In a provocative gesture, we will quote a man from The Other Tribe, who ends this passage from yesterday’s column with a slightly odd set of statistics:

    BROOKS (8/27/13): The idea was to reduce ugliness in the world by reducing ugliness in yourself. King argued that “unearned suffering is redemptive.” It would uplift people involved in this kind of action. It would impose self-restraint. At their best, the leaders understood that even people in the middle of just causes can be corrupted. They can become self-righteous, knowing their cause is right. They can become smug as they move forward, cruel as they organize into groups, simplistic as they rely on propaganda to mobilize the masses. Their hearts can harden as their enemies become more vicious. The strategy of renunciation and the absorbing of suffering was meant to guard against all that.

    In short, the method relied upon a very sophisticated set of paradoxes. It relied on leaders who had done a lot of deep theological and theoretical work before they took up the cause of public action. Nonviolent protest, King summarized, “rests upon two pillars. One, resistance, continuous military [sic] resistance. Second, it projects good will against ill will. In this way nonviolent resistance is a force against apathy in our own ranks.””

    excerpt: “We’re fairly sure that the phrase is question (second paragraph above) is “continuous militant resistance.””

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