What follows is secret men’s business. I adjure those of the fairer sex to refrain from reading any further. Thank you.
At the beginning of this term, we held our first AA meeting here at school: Aggroholics Anonymous. In attendance were recovering aggroholics. Mr Eatough,
one of ten siblings, a contributing circumstance somewhat beyond his control, admitted to a past instance of aggro towards one of his brothers. Mr
Groves, a super-coach without doubt, disclosed times on the sideline when his temper was untempered and his secret frustrations bubbled to a disturbed
surface… and Mr Morton, probably the most reprobate of all, “Hi Wayne”, admitted to times, yes times, when he flung his bat in a frantic, frenzied,
fever-pitched rage. It still makes him cringe. Yep, we are all aggroholics… recovering.
Year 5 and Year 6 boys were also invited to attend, although compelled might be a better description. Why boys? I am not sure why… but this intense
desire in primary-age lads to win, to be the best, to see justice, just surges through our collective veins. Why Year 5/6? Well in spite of a sprinkling
of protestations, this seems an apt time of life, when aggro is heightened but reason is stirred. A time when my body is enabling me to compete with
strength and passion, but my mind is beginning to reflect on the sort of person I am becoming. So, we felt the occasion was ripe to confront these
facts of life, and the inaugural A-A meeting commenced.
The first words belong to God and come via his servant James. Listen carefully…
"This you know, my beloved brethren… everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the
righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is
able to save your souls."
With this in mind, we pondered… what does it mean to be slow to anger? Was it that instead of our anger reaction default being set at 2.4 seconds
we push it out to a lazy 4 seconds… then let rip. This, it was agreed, might be helpful, but only marginally. Or maybe it means that when poked,
we seek to move much more prudently through the emotion-ometer; happy > mildly irritated > moderately frustrated > angry > hysterical,
rather than hurtling from 1-100 in under six seconds. Or, perhaps it means we intentionally select the causes we are going to get angry about, with
a deliberate effort being made to balance the import of the activity with the heat of the response. “Today I am only going to get angry, deeply angry,
about, hmm… how we treat refugees”. Although I am not sure if anyone has mastered that. Regardless of our deliberations, I think we all agree
that our quick-fire fury certainly was not achieving the righteousness of God.
The burning question though for those at the meeting, was how do we do it? How do we prepare ourselves to be slow to anger as a preventative
measure, or quell our ferocity in the heat of conflict? Well, having played over-45 soccer, I can reliably inform you this burning question continues to
smoulder. Our first three tips take place in the mind.
- Tell yourself before the event, “No matter what… I’m going to enjoy being with my mates, not just winning.” Thus to be waiting in the reserve
queue can still be enjoyable.
- Know for certain that you are probably not the best player on the paddock. Ego is often the cause of much clashing of antlers.
- And this one is a beauty…. See that anger is the enemy of fun. It really is.
The second set of hot tips for aggroholics were a little more practical.
- Everybody should accept the rules and follow the rules. Yes, this alone would de-escalate the killer-pastilles of pressure that arise during competitive
- Take some self-imposed time out. And closely related to this… allow those taking this time-out to return to the activity once their head has
cooled… with graciousness. It’s probably better to not say a word.
- Pray about these things. Certainly the God who desires this standard of behaviour would have a strong interest in granting the request… wouldn’t
Then to close our first A-A meeting, we handed the last word to God.
“… in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
The word implanted, we reasoned, is the gospel: the good news we recovering aggroholics need to hear. Daily and candidly. Your anger has been paid for,
dealt with, forgiven. Anger is now not who you are - a part of your life. Nope, destructive anger, the kind we experience almost every day, is something
more like an intruder - it lurks around, trying to destroy your relationship with God - and others. This sort of anger, put it off, like stinky clothing
(an image that resonates). This is fitting for a child of God. Anger is no longer your master. Your master now is King Jesus; a better king, a kinder