Friday, November 21, 2008

Whoopsie! Forgot to sin!

It seems I have been falling behind on my discussion of the Seven Deadly Sins. I have written pieces about four of the Seven Virtues, but have only addressed two of the seven deadly sins, and neither was particularly exciting. I suppose I had to start somewhere, but talk about starting things out with a whimper. Bleah.

Well, at least gluttony and sloth are out of the way. That leaves Lust, Greed, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. Lust I have already decided to save for last. Gotta have desert after all this work, you know.

I guess there is some part of me that is amazed that I found it easier to write about virtues than sins. I guess I really am getting old. Or maybe just dull.

So I have to pick a sin for today. I think I shall address wrath. It is a delightful word that rolls off the tongue in an almost obscene way. Wrath. It sounds like a word Tim Curry would use to indicate something quite nasty indeed. Something that would hurt.

Mirriam-Webster online says this:

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English wrǣththo, from wrāth wroth — more at wroth
Date: before 12th century

1 : strong vengeful anger or indignation
2 : retributory punishment for an offense or a crime : divine chastisement

Wiki just gave a definition of anger when I typed in "wrath" but I think they are really two different things. They are related, like cousins, or siblings even, but not really twins.

Wrath is what I unleash on some poor unsuspecting slob in the customer service office of any of a number of stores where I don't feel like I got good service. Wrath is not just anger, it is anger and punishment for some wrong, real or perceived. Like that poor schmoe at Lowe's when I found out that my windows were going to be delayed by a month. I lit into him in no uncertain terms. As we say here in New England, I laid him out to whaleshit. Poor guy. It wasn't his fault that my windows got delayed. But wrath is what he got a face full of.

Wrath is what I got when my father was mad at whatever he got mad at when I was a kid. Sometimes it was me, sometimes it was work, sometimes it was just life. But I got the anger that came out sideways and slapped hard. I got his wrath. In that instance I define wrath as the behavioral expression of anger and frustration that may or may not be related to the intended target.

Wrath is what happens when I am angry and I act out on that anger. I do not act out in a physical way, but I do act out verbally, and if my verbal confrontation is in person, I can be a very intimidating physical presence. I can turn red, I can swagger, I can lean in and shout. I can be quite intimidating if I so desire. If distance and time separate me from the object of my wrath, I am able to vent that anger and bile through the written word. I have a black belt in verbal nastiness and biting sarcasm put to page. But if you're reading this, you probably already know that.

Wrath is something I would do well to avoid, and I can see why it is considered to be a deadly sin. It is so utterly delicious to verbally flay someone. In the 1980s sitcom "Designing Women," Dixie Carter's Julia Sugarbaker had at least one scene per episode where she verbally handed someone, usually an uppity, arrogant, nasty, mean, bully, his or her kidneys on a plate. She was the queen of the verbal smack-down, and she always got the applause line from it.

We all like to see someone get their come-uppance, true. But who am I to judge that person X deserves to get it or that I am entitled to deliver it? That's a bit presumptuous, isn't it?

Of course on the other side of that coin is Audre Lourde, who said "your silence will not protect you." So do I sit silent while I am treated poorly? Well, no. I guess the thing to do would be to develop some manners and make my case politely and without so many fireworks.

I know there are people who like to see me get wound up and rip things (and people) apart. I suppose that is amusing, unless you're the one presently at the end of the buzz saw, then it's not so much fun at all.

I can work on wrath, I suppose. And by that I mean not working on it like getting better at it, sharpening my sword, if you will, but more like tempering my wrath to leave fewer people in pieces when I am finished expressing my displeasure. I cannot imagine it is easy or fun to be on the receiving end of one of my tirades. I shall try to work on that. Please remind me when I need it.


MRMacrum said...

Again all I can think of is how another supposed sin is also celebrated or better put, warned about as being one of the main threats one can expect from God, should one decide to not play by the rules. How many old testament verses and Baptist Bible thumpers have warned us of "God's Wrath"? Yet it is considered a poor tool to pull out when dealing with our fellow humans.

God is our saviour and our scapegoat. A convenient "it's his fault', "God made me do it", or possibly my favorite when no explanation is forthcoming, "it is God's Will".

Wrath is in my opinion wrongfully placed on the Dealy Sins list. Or at least there should be a disclaimer attached. "In some cases, Wrath can be useful and utilized in the pursuit of the betterment of Man. Some flounders need to be set straight and Wrath will often do it." I will admit that as a hard headed bone head kid, it often took parental Wrath to get me to pay attention. Nice guy shit was not going to work.

Queenie said...

There must be something truly wrong with me as I have never felt wrath. I have been angry - yesiree Bob - but have never felt the wrath that it could bubble into. I almost look at my ability to forgive (not forget, mind you) as a fault. I think it almost scares me to think what would happen if I REALLY got mad...