When I was a teenager, I was like most youths: energetic, daring, fearless, aggressive and willing and ready to face any opponent or enemy. And looking back at my youthful years, I realize that it is somewhat of a miracle – God’s protective hand over me – that kept me alive and well, and out of prison, up to this day. And being that I am thankful, I will express my gratitude to God by taking every precaution to keep things that way. Or, in other words, I will stay calm.
Yes, so great is the power of staying calm! Today, over two million people are locked away in prison cells in the United States alone. But the United States prison system is not that depressing: in other countries, the living conditions in prison are more harrowing. Many of them are there because they lacked the power of staying calm. Thousands of people have lost their lives because someone lacked the power of staying calm.
Yes, calm. Calm even when deeply provoked. Calm when others are raging at you. Calm when you feel like you should pick up an object and harm someone. Calm when someone tells the worst lie about you. Calm when you were wrongfully judged. The power of staying calm cannot be overrated.
I remember a time when I was walking to the beach. There were two us: my childhood friend Akbar and I. We were going to take a swim in the ocean. We were about 17 years at the time. On our way back, we were approached by a group of thugs who wanted to make trouble. One of them had a cutlass in his hand. But being young and fearless, I exchanged words with them. I picked up a piece of rock and gripped it in my hand, waiting for a justifiable excuse to take down the oncoming aggressor. Luckily, he stopped a safe enough distant from me and did not cross the line where my mind would say “fire”. Today, I thank God that I never had a chance to use that rock. And I also thank God that I have no one’s blood on my hands. I have also learned that it is wiser to discourage a confrontation or walk away from it, than step up to it. Of course, sometimes we are left with no choice than to defend ourselves. And then we have a right and responsibility to do so, but in all other circumstances, as the bible advises us “leave peaceably with all men as much as possible”.
The bible describes “wrath” as one of the seven deathly sins. This is the sin of “anger”. In deep anger, so much destruction has been done to human lives. In deep anger, so many people have committed suicide. In deep anger, so many relationships were torn apart, with no hopes of being repaired. In deep anger, so many murders have been committed. Because of the sin of anger, so many wars have been perpetuated, which only fueled one of the root causes of the war – anger, and gave rise to more of it.
So, the next time someone steps on your nerves…don’t speak, don’t act. Just stay calm. Remember God’s word: in your anger do not sin; and do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Related: There are no winners in a war.