The Angry Man
Henry Adams once wrote that politics is simply the systematic organization of hatreds. It’s only fitting then that old Prince Bolkonsky talks so much about politics in the second half of today’s reading because he spends the first half of it engaged with hatred’s raging cousin, anger.
The old man needs to slow it down a bit. The demands on the body of a raging heart are too much, especially at his age. Further, and perhaps more importantly, he needs to ask himself what he’s accomplishing by getting angry so often. From an objective point of view it’s clear that he’s alienating his friends and family. Sure, we’ve spoken of the virtues of his daughter, Marya, but not everyone is so forgiving. If he’s not careful the old prince will sever himself completely from society. Though, to be honest, that just might be what he wants.
For those of us hoping to preserve connection with others, however, we might want to work on our anger issues so as not to isolate ourselves from the world.
We shall forestall the possibility of anger if we repeatedly set before ourselves its many faults and shall rightly appraise it. Before our own hearts we must arraign it and convict it; we must search out its evils and drag them into the open; in order that it may be shown as it really is, it should be compared with all that is worst.
Seneca, On Anger III