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February 23, 2011 / catherinebwrites

ELIXIR

I’ve been reading James Lee Burke.   What a writer!   I feel jealous every time I read him.   But I’m not here to critique him, I want to quote him.   No better man for the arresting insight but, this one knocked me for six.   It’s from his novel RAIN GODS.

  • “Theologians claimed that anger was a cancer and that hatred was one of the seven deadly sins……   They were wrong…. anger was an elexir that cauterized sorrow and passivity and victimhood from the metabolism; it lit fires in the belly; it provided you with that deadening of the conscience that allowed you to lock down on someone with iron sights and forget that he descended from the same tree in a Mesopotamian savannah that you did.” 

Is that an insight or what?   Anger as an elixir.   Especially righteous anger.   Especially victim anger.   Doesn’t it feel soooooooo good?   So much better that that dreepy old, weepy old, soul-sucking sorrow.   It makes you want to get up and do things, be in charge.

But then comes the deadening of conscience.   That brings us to the bomb on the bus, the bullet in a neighbour’s head, the daughter gang-raped, the tyre necklace, the gas chamber, the trench filled with quicklime. 

Surely there’s somewhere in between?   Some border we don’t have to cross?   Can we use the fire in the belly for good?   Can we still keep our conscience alive?  

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One Comment

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  1. Gold in the Shadows / Feb 26 2011 10:58 pm

    Yes, sadly when anger turns to vengeance and we forget our common humanity we all suffer. Anger is what may allow us to stand against injustice/ But forgiveness has to follow.

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