A lunatic and an angry person can be one and the same thing. To appreciate this, one has to think of a time when he/she ever tried to talk to, or reason with an angry person. Of course, there are people known to be quite sane, except during their moments of anger. But, it is impossible to reason with an angry person, just as it is impossible to reason with an insane person. Others are known to often apologize for losing their top during their moments of anger.
Anger is an emotional display of rage, often without common sense. There are so many things that cause anger. People from Matabeleland are confronted with the cause for anger—having witnessed their relatives being butchered senselessly. How can it be possible for anyone to tell those people to control their anger, for instance? However, a person who is angry becomes abnormal, as to be unable to control himself or apply reason in his conversation.
Anger is a starting point before the murder is committed. The referred Matabeleland massacres were committed by angry people. The late former President, Robert Mugabe, is attributed as having asserted that it was a moment of madness. This was, actually, true as such murders were committed out of unjustified anger. The soldiers who were used to commit such murders were driven by anger. No-one could reason with them during their acts of insanity. Their anger was coaxed by an unbalanced tribal history, between the Shona-speaking and the Ndebele-speaking. The Shona-speaking people were easily used to become angry against the Ndebele-speaking people, for political reasons.
The cunning political leaders use this to whip emotions on uneducated people, to do the dirty work of injuring political opponents. The same method could be used in reverse. But what is most important is that this type of anger affects the uneducated people, more than it does to the educated ones. The first recorded display of such behavior was by Cain, against his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1-16). Under a truly civilized nation, such practices are rare. A civilized person uses reason more than emotion, avoiding such heinous behaviors.
Most Western nations can be credited for being guided by Christian principles. They have become more civilized, as avoiding barbarism in their territories. There have been some sporadic lapses, though, having taken place in recent years, especially, in fights against the Islamic terrorists. But, an objective person can attest that most Western countries are not as provocative as portrayed by their aggressors. They are not perfect, but behaving as more civilized than was the case some years back. Democracy seems to be serving them well.
Nevertheless, even some atheistic nations display some civility, showing that education goes a long way in controlling human behavior. The description of education points to the original mind of the Creator. A person can be as educated as identifying with Christianity, through the teachings of Jesus. Although Christianity is described as not directly associated with education, Western civilization is a result of the association with Christianity.
The book of John shows Jesus as the light of the world. The highest level of education is portrayed in avoiding such stupidity, when applying Christ’s teachings, as the light of the world (John 1:4-5 & 8:12). There is no other knowledge surpassing Christ’s teachings, whether scientific or philosophic. After having reached the level of the faith of Jesus, it is impossible for anyone to kill another fellow human being, out of emotion.
Jesus is wrongly assumed as having been angry on some occasions. There is a difference between standing for truth and being angry. Possibly, for lacking appropriate wording, one could be mistaken for being angry when asserting to what is truthful. When unapologetically standing up for truth, one can be mistaken for being undiplomatic. This is why adultery is given an inoffensive term like “having an affair” or “having a small house” instead of calling it adultery.
When dealing with a Zimbabwe having fallen out of dignity, the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki maintained using “quiet diplomacy.” Such terms are used in this world to justify the wrong things. If radically standing up for truth, one is viewed as being undiplomatic. The compromised world does not accommodate such people. This is why Jesus was mistaken for being angry, at times. Jesus was unapologetic about asserting the truth:
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables”(John 2:13-15) (NIV).
His was not a display of anger, but an assertion of truth over what was happening. When using words like “hypocrites” against the Pharisees, Jesus was revealing the truth about their conduct, using Scriptures that they were in possession of. Those of this world would describe Jesus as having been undiplomatic to those Pharisees. Such accusations would be induced by a failure to appreciate the difference between anger and truth.
One of our Shona sayings is: “Chokwadi chinorwadza” (Truth is painful). Indeed, truth is unpalatable. That is why Jesus was mistaken for being angry when driving those money-changers out of the Temple. There was no need to be diplomatic, under those circumstances. He was projecting, exactly what was in God’s mind. This is different from an angry person, unable to reason when angry. Show me an angry person, then I would show you a lunatic.
I feel sorry for the parents of the Gukurahundi soldiers. The philosophical law of co-existence was reinforced by Jesus, during His Sermon on the Mount: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) (NIV). Jesus had previously described the sin of murder as having been different from what is coded in the Law of Moses:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison” (Matthew 5:21-25) (NIV).
The disapproval of wrongness by Jesus should not be mistaken for anger. That was not anger, necessarily, but portraying truth, which becomes turbulent when mixed with falsehood. In fact, there was never a time that Jesus became angry when He walked on earth. He showed love to His enemies, even at the crucifixion. His enemies were angry, but He was never angry with them.
The above Scripture shows how Christians should avoid anger. That does not mean being “diplomatic” on matters of truth. Thabo Mbeki may have assumed showing love to Robert Mugabe, in his quiet diplomacy. But as truth now comes out, He was the worst enemy of Mugabe. He could have salvaged His dignity by telling him the truth about his follies.
While anger is one of the natural human emotions, only when guided by the Holy Spirit can one control it, exercising reason at all times. A true Christian is not apologetic, as if seeking to please the wrong-doers. He is friendly, but forthright on matters of truth. In other words, it is impossible for truth to mix with falsehoods. Thabo Mbeki’s case can be the best example of what happens when falsehood is apologetically handled.
To the Ephesians, Paul sought to clarify how truth could be mistaken for anger. The only thing that makes a Christian appear angry is falsehood. This is because truth and falsehood cannot mix. The quarrelsome condition, thereof, can easily be mistaken for anger. This is why Paul advised his listeners on how to deal with anger.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:25-30) (NIV).
The Spirit holds no anger. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law”(Galatians 5:22-23) (NIV). The most important datum is that anger is a state of madness, and there is no reason in its faculty. A good person, though displaying anger, at some point, does not break friendship with those concerned. He remains in good communication with them.
All gruesome murders are caused by insanity. As long as one is not familiar with how the mind works, one cannot be certain of what causes insanity. The late former President Mugabe should, at least, be acknowledged for having admitted that the Gukurahundi fiasco was a moment of madness. True, indeed, it was a moment of madness. But, what about those soldiers used to carry out such dastard activities? There is a need to understand those people, before wholly condemning them, as though different from the one passing judgment.
Without the Holy Spirit, all humans are susceptible to this kind of behavior. The worst could be when a brother steals from one, or that the brother committed adultery with one’s wife. But Jesus said being angry against a brother, subjects one to judgment. Anger is, therefore, a sin that needs to be avoided. But how possible can it be for a person to avoid anger, one way or another? Jesus provides the only clear answer. It is unnecessary to be angry against people for whom Jesus died.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”(Matthew 5:43-46) (NIV).
This is what makes Christianity different from other religions of this world. Under normal conditions, Moslems are clear in dissociating themselves with the Taliban extremists, who seem to be guided by insanity. All normal people want peace and do appreciate that this is achievable when doing unto others as one would like them to do unto him/her. It is only a primitive person who believes that God approves murdering those doing whatever one assumes to be wrong. Christianity, itself, should not be considered as a religion, as seeking to reconcile all human beings, regardless of their religious background. This was aptly put by Paul:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) (NIV).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99