I was talking to Mark, who spends a considerable portion of his day expressing anger at his wife, children, employees, other drivers, and more. When I pointed out a particular instance of his anger, he replied, “It was no big deal. It’s not like anybody got hurt.”
When I was a young teenager, I visited the Petrified Forest National Park. I remember thinking that it would be no big deal to take a small piece of petrified wood home in my pocket—despite reading several signs clearly stating that removal of anything from the park was strictly forbidden. After all, I thought, there were hundreds of thousands of other pieces, along with many enormous logs of petrified wood. I was about to look for a piece of suitable size when I saw a sign that asked, “What If Everybody Took Just One Piece?”
Beneath that written question was a drawing that demonstrated a line of people leaving the park, each carrying in his or her hand what was obviously meant to represent a piece of petrified wood. Under that drawing was a statement: “We have 850,000 visitors each year.” The meaning was unmistakable. If each of 850,000 people took a piece of the park every year, soon there would be nothing remaining. I discontinued my search.
Rarely does disaster result from any single moment of anger, but a series of them can quickly build into a destructive fire. And what if everybody does it, which is very nearly true? The piling up of our individual and group anger results in divorce, child abuse, violence, racism, and civil war, to name just a few consequences. It all stops when we refuse to be angry in our own life, perhaps by asking, “What if everybody did it?”
Learn more about eliminating your anger!