What Good Is Anger?

by Neva Sly Hargrave

Anger is one of those emotions that totally throws you off kilter!! Anger blocks your mind from the ability to use common sense and logic, because you can’t think beyond what you are angry about. Your mind is busy justifying your anger and your reasons for being angry. Your mind pulls it up over and over, so you can understand that you are right to be angry. Emotionally you are so rived up with anger, sometimes you even get physical, lashing out at someone – who frequently is not the person you are angry with – but your emotions don’t care because you are so angry. A lot of people automatically lash out physically when they are angry. Anger is certainly not a part of your Spiritual path. The Soul is Love, not anger.

All of these points are important, yet it is the body that really suffers: you tense up, your heart palpitates, your nervous system is a tightrope, you get a headache and you could have a heart attack or a stroke! Take note and measure your anger level, notice how your stomach tightens up, or how you get a slight tightening band around your head, your muscles get tight and sometimes you even fist your hands, you may grind your teeth, do your eyes squint too? Just notice all of the physical changes that take place when you are angry. Is the Anger really worth that?

Beyond all of that, however, is the damage to your Soul! If you are not able to let the anger go and forgive, the anger stays in your mind and body, gnawing at your insides. Yes, Anger can cause disease, after all dis-ease is merely a discomfort in your body frequently brought about by Anger or stress. Ulcers are usually brought about by Stress and – guess what – anger is stress. And if you already have an ulcer, it will flare up during a rage of anger.

Jim Jones was a master manipulator. He could lie so easily that you knew he was telling the truth. I just found out from a dear soul I had disliked for years that Jim told her lies about me and at the same time was telling me lies about her. How cruel! She is a wonderful person and I sure was glad to let go of all the disharmony I held toward her.

Jim Jones fueled our anger, first toward the government that wasn’t providing for our children and our poor people, and that encouraged racism by failing to punish those who committed racist acts, then against the organized religion that was an opiate to appease the people and keep them happy so they didn’t ruffle any government feathers.

Surely we all remember how Jim goaded people to put someone down, and if Jim didn’t do it, he had the council or other people do the goading. Actually, he got us angry at whoever he was focusing on for whatever the person was doing. Did the person deserve the abuse? Frequently, no!

As punishment for young people – including little ones – he would have someone bigger put on boxing gloves and they would box up on the platform, with Jim smiling and pushing for them to hit harder. This was also done with adults and while the assembly would look on. Some were shouting for more; others got angry at what was being done, but held silent. Did the smokers deserve two swats with a wooden paddle that had holes in it, because they had not quit smoking? Can you imagine the people of California carrying whips and paddles to hit the people who are smoking in the state? Taking away the freedom of personal rights is wrong!

The beating I received for smoking was a blessing in disguise, as the welts brought the attention of the company I worked for to my plight, and they helped me escape from Peoples Temple. I wasn’t mad at my best friend for beating me, because I knew that Jim Jones brought that kind of anger out in us.

You may not believe that we were brainwashed, but pray tell, what causes a peaceful, loving person to beat their best friend with a rubber hose? Before I was beaten, another person was beaten. When the hose was passed around the group for everyone to participate, I prayed. What was I to do, I couldn’t beat anyone. Then I heard the small voice in my head telling me to lift my arms up and sway as though I was in a religious frenzy. It worked, and the hose passed me by. What I felt was anger, but the anger was at myself for not being capable of beating another person.

What good does it do to hold anger? Does it feel good to harbor an ill feeling toward someone you probably didn’t like to begin with? Anger is a way of validating your dislike for the person, thereby making you right in holding the anger.

Who can you be angry with? The Mother or Father who brought their children to Jonestown, to the haven that was meant to be heaven on earth? They believed Jim Jones, followed him to that haven and, along with their children, followed Jim Jones to death. How can you be angry with them? Oh, you warned them about Jim Jones, you didn’t believe what Jim Jones was saying. But the Mother and Father did, and they died for it.

How could anyone believe what you were saying that was wrong with Peoples Temple? When we joined, we found a loving community of people working together for unity and brotherhood and equality for all, for the poor, for the children. We spent hours writing letters to our government officials swaying their votes for the poor. We used to send baskets of food to poor people, and clean the houses of people who were sick, even when they didn’t belong to Peoples Temple. We cared!

Who else can you be angry with? Jim Jones? But why hold on to anger against someone who was mentally deranged, and now dead for 28 years? Furthermore, you can’t hold anger against someone who abused you or your family when they were following and obeying Jim Jones.

You have to let it go… and forgive!!

There are many families who were torn apart because of Jim Jones, and some still don’t speak to each other. Yet there is no need to hold any anger, when you realize that Jim promoted the anger to begin with. The people were just doing Jim’s bidding, and how Jim loved to see us obey! One white family that was broken up had been moved to San Francisco, and one of their red-headed boys was sent to an all black school. What do you think he went through? The teasing, rousting, cruelties unimaginable. Of course he is mad, angry not only toward his family, but toward Jim Jones!

Letting go of anger is not always easy, although it can be. Yelling at the walls won’t help. Believe me, I tried it! I went through a subconscious breathing process, called Rebirthing, three times before I finally got everything off my chest and was able to forgive Jim Jones for his role in my life. Notice I said his “role” in my life. After all, it was my choice to be a part of Peoples Temple. I was not coerced, nor was my husband. Both of us became a part of this wonderful caring group called Peoples Temple.

What I did learn is that you don’t have to go through a deep breathing process to talk to another person’s soul. The Soul lives on, and all you have to do is call the person’s name, preferably in meditation or prayer, and proceed to tell them off!! Let it go, all of it, ramble and rage at the person for everything you hold them at fault for your anger. It doesn’t matter if the person is alive or dead, the Soul is always available for healing, whatever that healing may be.

There are many benefits of letting go of the anger. One I am sure you will enjoy is wrinkles! The older you get, the more wrinkles you get from many different things you do. As a example, you get wrinkles from concentrating on your work, from laughing a lot (my favorite), from making faces (without realizing you’re doing it), from sadness and – of course – from anger. The ones you get from anger are not attractive at all. They make you look mad. I am somewhat an authority on this, as I have more wrinkles than my 95-year-old mother, which is not at all pleasant.

One of the main benefits of letting go of anger is not having to deal with the physical discomfort of anger. I have a dear friend who used to get headaches every time she got angry, which was frequently as she had an anger management problem. Telling her to take a deep breath and blow it out, sounded ridiculous to her. However, when she tried it, she discovered it did help and it calmed her down, and lowered her level of anger to where she could control it herself. I have not dealt with much anger, personally, but I do get a headache when I get angry.

My main points of anger are children being abused, racism, and government mismanagement, to say the least!! I have backed out of active politics, as I always got so frustrated (angry), I ended up yelling my political viewpoint at people who disagreed with me. I am very patriotic and never miss voting, but I always get upset when people’s rights are taken away or when the poor and the children are disregarded.

As my Mother would say, “Life is too short to be angry, and nothing really matters, except Love.” Surely, after holding your anger against those who tormented you, who were goaded by Jim Jones to do so, for 30 years, it’s time to let it go, don’t you think? The anger is only hurting you, unless, of course, you direct it towards your family, which hurts everyone. It just isn’t worth it!

I hope this article has helped you realize the misspent energy that goes into your anger and hopefully, you will choose to let it go.

(Neva Sly Hargrave is a former member of Peoples Temple. Her complete collection of writings for the jonestown report may be found here. She can be reached through this website.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on April 14th, 2021.
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