Dear June: Meeting Anger With Calm and Love

March 1, 2021 Updated: March 1, 2021

Dear June,

I read your article on families, and while impressed, you’re missing one crucial piece. These people for whatever reason are angry. You can’t have a conversation with them. They become defensive. I’ve been friends with someone for 40 years. Her husband is an atheist, which we’ve ignored all this time. He also drinks till he’s unbearable to be with. My feelings have changed toward my friend and now I cannot stand her husband. We talk via phone, but nothing important.

I have a gay sister-in-law who I loved and would have done anything for. Even my husband loved her, but since the hatred brought about by the liberals has taken hold, again our feelings have dwindled, and for the first time, I no longer want to accept their choices in their lifestyle. All I do is have less and less to do with them. I’m acting as if I hate myself for this, but can no longer bring back the love I once felt for either of them. I pray, asking the Lord to take away my hatefulness, but he’s leaving it up to me. Thanks for listening. God bless.

J.D.

Dear J.D.,

Right now, there is a lot of anger and hatred in our society, and it is shocking and demoralizing when our family or friends direct these at us.

You are absolutely right to pull away from this dynamic because our ordinary human bonds cannot be sustained in such a dynamic.

However, this is becoming a new normal in America, and so for our own peace of mind and for the future of our country, we need to learn to meet this anger with calm and compassion.

The following are my thoughts on how we might begin to do this. And I do agree that it is up to each of us, although I think we have divine support.

The Illogic

You said that people become defensive when you try to have a conversation. This is because what lies beneath the anger isn’t rational. Let me explain.

KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov identified four steps that would allow communist revolution to take place in a country. The first step is demoralization. Just as this sounds, it means to shift people’s moral framework until they are willing to take on the cause of revolution.

This has been happening incrementally in the United States for decades, and it appears to now be reaching a crescendo.

I recommend that everyone do their research into the history of the Frankfurt School and understand what the terms critical theory and postmodernism actually mean so that they can see better for themselves what has been happening.

To give a very brief overview, when the political failure of communism became undeniable, a group of intellectuals who believed staunchly in a future utopia came together to keep the revolution alive by applying Marxist theories, combined with those of Hegel and Freud, to social issues. From this group, informally called the Frankfurt School for its place of origin, or more formally as the Institute for Social Research, the world got critical theory, which is now applied to race, gender, and sexuality, and taught widely in America’s universities. The ideas of one member of this group, Herbert Marcuse, were particularly influential in student movements in the 1960s.

It’s not hard to see the Marxist theme of defining history as all about oppression running throughout today’s critical theories. Of course, oppression and suffering have certainly always been part of the human condition, but in contrast, in the Judeo-Christian framework, suffering is also what ennobles us—allowing us to come closer to our divine potential. Saints never had an easy life, and they are notable for their care, love, and sacrifice in the face of hate and hardship.

What we are seeing today is in part the effects of the same sort of malevolence that caused tens of millions of deaths under political communism. You can read about this more in depth in The Epoch Times’ series “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World” (ReadEpoch.com/Specter).

Overcoming Hate

As you well know, hatred is very infectious, and in order to release it, it may be helpful to reflect on what it is. This has been true for me.

I would never have considered myself a hateful person, but in moments of honest reflection, I have seen its ugliness.

I was curious about the definition of hate and came upon the work of Dutch researcher Agneta Fischer and thought her findings were interesting. According to her research, some of the key elements of hate involve a moral component; they are underscored by a belief that a person or group has malevolent intent, and that this malevolence is irredeemable, thus the object of hate must be destroyed.

Fischer says the difference between anger and hate is that anger is more geared toward changing a person’s actions while hate doesn’t include a belief that they can change.

That hatred is often directed at groups (abstract concepts) rather than individuals, although it can also be toward an individual.

A third characteristic is that this hatred arises out of a moral framework that justifies acts of violence.

So my answer to countering hate is this: Forgive others. Recognize that their angry, cruel actions are the result of their suffering and manipulation by cultural forces—to turn the tables, they are being oppressed by oppressive ideas of oppression.

The moral fabric of society has become increasingly weak in recent decades, and many people have either not been raised with strong moral values or have been pulled by the strong currents in education and society at large to forget their roots. This is not the fault of any one group or individual, and people from all walks of life have contributed, including some religious and spiritual leaders whose ignoble actions have caused many to lose faith.

We must also let go of an overly strong desire to see justice. If you believe in divine justice, then you can be at peace knowing all will face the consequences of their actions, though perhaps not in this life. And as I have written before, we must temper our need for justice with mercy.

As Shakespeare’s Portia reminds us in “The Merchant of Venice,” “Earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.”

Betrayal and Forgiveness

It seems your sister-in-law has betrayed your trust and love. As I said above, a healthy first step is to pull away, and it is perfectly normal that your feelings would cool toward her. It takes a process to forgive. And even after forgiving her, it may not be possible to restore your former bond unless she changes.

But on the other hand, forgiving her could be what starts to awaken her conscience. And for many people, it is easier to awaken their conscience than it is to change their minds.

I believe that forgiveness and love have tremendous power to transform people. Here is one example from the book “Love as a Way of Life” by Gary Chapman:

“Years ago, Nicky Cruz, a drug-addicted gang leader on the streets of New York, confronted David Wilkerson, a young man committed to helping people like Nicky. ‘You come near me and I’ll kill you,’ Nicky warned.

“‘You could do that. You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you,’ Wilkerson responded.”

Cruz subsequently transformed his life into one of service. You can search for him online to find his account of his interactions with Wilkerson.

It’s perhaps more difficult with family and friends than with strangers to adopt an attitude of “I will love you no matter what” because this takes emotional distance and a great deal of compassion and forbearance. But it is precisely when we succeed at what is psychologically difficult that we gain new strength, and this virtue-based strength is real empowerment.

So in conclusion, the advice I think is most relevant is what Jesus said while being crucified: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And in doing this, you will set yourself free as well.

Sincerely,

June

Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.

June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.