Thursday, October 4, 2007

The consequences of Anger

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
–Ambrose Bierce

Anger and the ATM

At the time I am writing this post, the average anger management class is going to cost you between $600 and $2500. In addition to court fees most courts will order 12-52 weeks of anger management. This adds up to hours of sitting in class, time away from your family, time away from your job - as you may know time is money.

You may be saying to yourself, “Well my anger has not caused me any problems with the court or the police.” My response to you is “not yet.”

Denise was born and raised in Italy. She and her family moved to the United States when she was thirteen. She found adjustment to her new California lifestyle challenging. Denise felt as if she just did not fit in. Part of her difficulty was due to her slow absorption of the English language. During her high school years, she developed the habit of not expressing herself. She felt that if she voiced her opinions or her thoughts she would either be ridiculed or considered unintelligent because of her broken English. For years she kept her thoughts and emotions inside.

Now at twenty-one Denise spoke fluent English with little to no accent. She was a petite girl, 5’2 and no more than 105 pounds. She had long brown hair that she pulled into a ponytail. Tanned and toned, she entered my office in a fitted Jennifer Lopez sweat-suit. She had obviously assimilated to the L.A. culture. Although beautiful she still retained a quiet rural innocence.

Denise was a student at a local college when she found herself in a disagreeable and eventually costly position. If you have ever attended a major college you can understand how difficult and frustrating it is to find a parking space. Imagine that you’re late for class, and your building is halfway across the campus. Well the parking Gods smiled on Denise that day. As she pulled into the parking lot she slipped into a cozy outlined space waiting for her. With some time to spare, Denise applied her lip-gloss. She was using her rearview mirror when she noticed a meter maid joyfully detailing cars with parking tickets. As she watched for a while she noticed a trend. The meter maid only appeared to ticket students of races and nationalities not kin to her own. She felt confused and a little angry, but who was she to get involved, it was none of her business. Denise sucked it in and went to class.

The next day she witnessed the same thing. The exact same meter made appeared to be targeting and ticketing every student expect the ones of her own race. This time Denise was enraged. Why this is America! How could someone be allowed to continue such a discriminating act? She decided to speak her mind. Fuelled with the passion of injustice, Denise approached the meter maid. She explained how the meter maid’s actions were a violation of the student’s civic rights. She appealed to her since of equality. After all the meter maid was an African-American female. She could certainly relate to the sting of prejudice. Denise thought to herself, “Doesn’t she know about the women’s suffrage movement, the struggle of Dr. King and the NAACP?” Obviously, the meter maid did not know of Dr. King’s the struggle or did not care, because she promptly called campus police and had Denise arrested for obstructing the duties of a public officer.

Denise made bail at the price of $5000. She retained a lawyer at $250 an hour and was granted probation by the court, which charged her $290 in court fees. She is currently serving a three- year probation sentence and pays $100 a month to the probation department. By the time Denise completes her probation she would have made several trips to the ATM and paid close to $13,000 or more.

Believe it or not, the financial loss is the least destructive consequence of anger. In fact when we speak of “person centered aggression”, it is the cost to the victim that supersedes any financial loss. Let us take a look at how anger can destroy the lives of others around you.

Shannon Munford M.A.
Daybreak Counseling Service

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