Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pit Bulls and Angry People have the same DNA

One of the greatest needs individuals have is the need to feel safe. Safety is so important that we often relinquish our individual rights and freedoms, in an attempt to satisfy this need. An example of this is how easily the Patriot Act was passed following the 911 attacks.

Many of us choose where we live with safety in mind. For years I have felt that I lived in a fairly safe neighborhood, that is until a few weeks ago. Around 4 o’clock, one afternoon, my neighbor left me a frantic message. As I listened to her message I immediately knew that my children might be in danger. I called to my son, and daughter to find out where they were. My daughter yelled, “I’m in my room dad”. At that moment my son came flying through the back door. He shouted, “Someone is shooting a gun on our neighbor’s property.” He was by their fence when he heard the gunshot.

Our neighbors had arrived home a few minutes earlier, just in time to witness the conclusion of a life and death struggle between their Ginny (donkey) and two pit bulls. As the man got out of his car one the dogs lunged at him. He barely made it into his house. He grabbed a gun and took a shot. That was the gunshot that my son heard.

No one seems to know where the killer dogs came from, and they have not been seen since. I shudder to think what would have happened to my son if he had encountered them. Since the killing of the donkey my family has been very nervous about spending time outside. This fear has to do with the fact that the dogs have not been found.

Pit Bulls are known for their vicious attacks. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 1979-1998 ninety-eight deaths were caused by pit bulls in the United States. Most owners of pit bulls will swear up and down that their pet is very loving, and would never attack anyone. This is where the danger lies. It is the unpredictability of the attack that makes them dangerous.

In many ways a person who is prone to sudden eruptions of anger is like a pit bull. It is as though they share the same DNA. Just like pit bulls, it is often difficult to anticipate what will set them off. Families that live with this type of person may not feel safe. When living with an angry person, family members often walk on tiptoes for fear of setting off the beast.

Though pit bulls, and people with anger issues have similarities, there is one major difference. That difference is the ability to reason. As humans the creator has given each of us the free choice to choose how we behave. An old proverb says, “A fool gives vent to his anger” (Pro. 29:11). This supports the idea that venting your anger is a choice.

It is a sad thing that we sometimes choose to make our family members feel the brunt of our anger. According to the scriptures, love “is not easily angered”. If we truly love our families doesn’t it seem right to control our anger when we are with them?

For some it isn’t quite that simple. There are often underlying frustrations, and hurts that motivate their anger outbursts. Sometimes therapy is necessary to help an angry person find, and deal with the root cause of their anger.

If you are a volatile person who is willing to admit that you have a problem, and have a desire to change, I encourage you to seek help. Through counseling, or anger management classes you can learn to recognize the signs of when you are about to lose control. By understanding what triggers your outbursts you can learn how to interrupt the process.

It is not easy to admit when we have a problem, and even more difficult to give up the right to act anyway we want. But sometimes it is necessary to deny our individual rights so that those around us may feel safe.

Daybreak Counseling Service

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