Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rage & Righteousness

Odd, isn’t it, how rage and righteousness fit so neatly together. How alliterative, we think. How just. The aesthetics of it really weaken me behind the knees. The two together have a terrible, a fearful symmetry.

The rightness. The sense of perfect justification. The sense that one has in oneself both the aggrieved and the aggrieved’s hero. The person who was wronged and simultaneously the person who will right the wrong through justice. Through punishment. Through the speaking. The enacting of one’s rage. Through the delivery of justice. Justice itself!

The sense that one is suddenly raised out of one’s quotidian moral quagmire into the mountain heights of purity of suffering, purity of humiliation, purity of oppression, purity of purpose, purity of motive, clarity of moral vision. As the adrenaline rushes through one’s body, one has the sense that one has achieved a momentary and somewhat rare oneness with God. Oneness with the One who is purity himself. Justice himself. One speaks. One acts. In such a heightened state of being. And one wants to finish each statement and action completed in this frame of mind with the phrase, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

A phrase that is like the sudden slowness of Errol Flynn’s rapier penetrating and then being withdrawn from a pirate’s torso, for example. Like God sending a plague or a thunderbolt. “There, now. Have that, you miserable sinner! Take that, you contemptible swine!”

Thus sayeth the Lord.

Many of us live for moments like these. We are truly alive when events conspire to make us pure victims of someone else’s evil or witnesses to the pure evil of someone else’s actions on someone else. Moments when we have it in our power to respond. When we at least have the opportunity to speak and perhaps to be heard by those perpetrating the evil.

I’m thinking for the moment about the news clips throughout the month of August. News clips capturing the contorted, blood-engorged faces of people at town meetings held by members of Congress. I’m thinking about what rage and righteousness those people possessed.

Oh, and I’m thinking about the many times. The nearly infinite instances in my life in which rage and righteousness came together. What delight! What transcendence! What holiness I felt then. What satisfaction! What justification. What redemption. I knew then.

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