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Day 41: Anger Is A Bad Fuel

“There is no more stupefying thing than anger, nothing more bent on its own strength. If successful, none more arrogant, if foiled, none more insane—since it’s not driven back by weariness even in defeat when fortune removes its adversary it turns its teeth on itself.”

– Seneca

For today’s post, let me take an example from the life of Nelson Mandela. He is a well-known South African revolutionary, also the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. He has spent 27 years in prison for his struggle against racial injustice, where he faced the worst possible human conditions.

He was put up in a small cell with no bed to live in isolation, was given flimsy clothes in the cold weather, made to do hard manual work of crushing stone with a hammer to make gravel, denied letters from family, not allowed to attend his own son’s funeral, and subjected to inhuman behavior from jailors where they sometimes urinated on him. Everything was done to break the spirits of this old man.

Does it make you angry just reading about it? You must imagine a person who came out of prison after 27 years of such inhuman subjection must be bitter and angry. But Nelson Mandela came out seeking peace and reconciliation. Instead of focussing his energy on hate and revenge, he focussed his energy on reforms and change.

So, there is a lesson to be learned from the life of one of the greatest leaders of history. Yes, you must fight against injustice and stand against what is wrong. But let it not be fueled by anger or hate.

Any mission or cause backed by such emotion can’t be sustained for a longer time. It will wear you down in such a way that you will soon the sight of your goals.

“Hate is too great a burden to bear,”

Martin Luther King Jr.
Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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