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Children — Angels — Anger


Children: “I love America more than any other country in this world; and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” These words from James Baldwin may capture the essence of being a responsible American. Adlai Stevenson added to this essence when he said, “When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.” “How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy.”

As President Clinton observed, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” “What we need are critical lovers of America – patriots who express their faith in their country by working to improve it.” We can start this work by focusing on the wisdom of Walter Lippmann, “We are quite rich enough to defend ourselves, whatever the cost. We must now learn that we are quite rich enough to educate ourselves as we need to be educated;” and that education must include all of our children, as they need to be educated. Only educating most of our children is not nearly good enough, especially if you are the child who is still being left behind.

Angels: “If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil.” What do you think about this pronouncement from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

If you are skeptical about this angel thing, consider what George Elliot said, “The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”

OK, you may still see nothing but sand and are too busy to rise upwards to be an angel. Besides, you’ve never seen an angel and doubt if anyone else has either. Well, it’s just like James Russell Lowell said, “All God’s angels come to us disguised.”

Voltaire added, “It is not known precisely where angels dwell – whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.”

Nonetheless, “Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”

It’s like Jean Paul Richter told us, “The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.”

“O welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope, Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings!”

Anger: There is a French Proverb that says, “Anger is a bad counselor.” Although anger compels you to action, it’s like Benjamin Franklin warned, “Anger and folly walk cheek by jowl.” Will Rogers put it this way, “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing;” and Robert G. Ingersoll like this, “Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.”

Should a Korean Proverb be more your style, try this one, “If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot.” Wherever in the world you seek your wisdom, indulging in anger is a major no-no. Even Horace gave it a thumbs-down, “Anger is short-lived madness.” Ambrose Bierce said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

OK, go ahead and lose your temper if you must; but at least take a quick count to 10 as you “consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.”