Anger can be a coward at times!
I know that at first blush that might be difficult to comprehend. In fact, you may disagree with this statement instantly (it may even make you angry).
But I think I can make a case for the cowardice of anger. So . . . here goes.
You need go no further than the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz (a favorite in my family, with a significant history behind it), to see it in all its “sound and fury” (thank you, William Faulkner). Obviously, I am about to make reference to the Cowardly Lion whose bravado and blustering are the stuff of literary legend. But then . . . you already knew that, didn’t you?
In truth, the Cowardly Lion is an anger monger, and he resorts to his emotion-of-choice in order to cover his true feelings of inadequacy and the fear that he is not perceived as a formidable force with which to be reckoned.
And so . . . he roars, he snarls, he machinates . . . all in an attempt to appear other than he is.
It turns out he is not so very different from the Wizard himself, who hides behind a curtain, and utilizes state-of-the-art technology to bamboozle the residents of the Emerald City. Both characters use their anger to cover the same truth: they are scared. And rather than tell the truth about how they feel, they lie.
But then . . . that is just a story, right?
Any reference to you or me is purely . . . (I’ll be honest) . . . intentional!
Truthfully, I have used anger to cover my cowardice as well. It reminds me of a comment that a minister I was working with once penciled in on the side column of my sermon notes, notes I had trustingly left on the podium, unprotected, and open to see. He wrote: “Weak point. Yell louder!” (I almost burst out loud as I noticed it while speaking – I’m sure that was his intent).
For the truth is, when we feel weakest we tend to yell the loudest. When we are most frightened, we sometimes are the most angry. And rather than express our truest, deepest emotion (FEAR), we cowardly employ ANGER instead.
The customer fuming (and trying to foment a rebellion with other customers waiting in line) in the teller line at the bank because he decided to try to make his transaction at the most busy time of the day and is running the risk of being late as he returns to work. The vehement driver who risks her own life and the life of those around her because to drive sensibly might mean she will be tardy for her pedicure.
Or the husband who decides it looks more manly to excoriate the barista in front of his wife and children, rather than admit that he might not have ordered the lattes correctly in every detail.
The person who is excessively afraid of a perceived future pain can find it very tempting to choose anger rather than express fear or dread. It just looks so much better, doesn’t it? Because rather than appearing weak, you get to appear to be the strongest of all.
You are the emotional coward, however.
And in the end . . . guess what?
You will . . . at some point . . . have to admit to the truth.
And when you do . . . you will not only find the thing you dread to be a bogey man of sorts, but . . . you will find that the loved ones around you (the ones you were trying to impress) will rally to your aid.
And you will find courage. Or . . . perhaps, courage will have found you.