Rule, do not be ruled

Rule, do not be ruled

Some legends hold timeless relevance. In ancient India, there were hermits who spent their lives in meditation, depending on alms for survival. They went from door to door crying 'Bhikshan dehi', meaning 'spare me some food'.

One day, a mendicant reached the doorstep of a housewife. She hurried out with a bowl of rice. She asked him, 'I have one question for you, Maharaj. Why do people get angry and quarrel?'
The mendicant said sharply and loudly, 'I have come here to seek alms and not answer silly questions.' The woman was taken aback. She burst out, 'How arrogant you are! You demand food, yet possess not a shred of humility. You are just a common beggar!' She went on haranguing him about his lack of manners and consideration. The man stood silently. When she stopped shouting, he said with a smile, 'My child, how angry you became when I raised my voice. You see, it is anger that leads to quarrels. If one learns to control anger, there will be fewer quarrels.'
The sage had given the woman not only an answer to her question but also an object lesson. In all probability, it left a deep impression on her. The episode, however, gives rise to more questions. Is anger good or bad and is it to be avoided?
Many of us see anger as a negative emotion that serves no useful purpose. We do not like ourselves when we are angry and we certainly do not feel comfortable in the company of angry people. This is because anger often displaces both reason and reasonable behaviour. It also rouses antagonistic feelings in others. However, as psychologists point out, anger is one of the most deeply rooted emotional drives in human nature and plays a vital role in the survival of the species.
It is what gives us the impetus to do our best, to overcome obstacles and to fight injustice. It becomes wrong and unacceptable only when it robs us of our self-control and makes us destructive in thought, word and deed. It is not the emotion itself but how we use it that qualifies it as good or bad.
Newspapers today are full of stories about the ill effects of anger. We hear of murders that take place due to financial disputes, of domestic violence and child abuse. These are the results of anger gone awry. However, the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King prove that anger is not necessarily an unacceptable emotion. These great men have demonstrated that unjust situations can be changed due to the outrage of others. Used constructively, anger can bring about salutary changes.
Anger is at its best when we succeed in ruling it and are not ruled by it. In the words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle 'such a person is one who feels angry on the right grounds, against the right persons, at the right moment, for the right length of time.'

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