Religious approaches to anger are often contentious; this has been brought to light by the recent attack on the Sikh community in Wisconsin.
On the 5th August 2012 a white supremacist gunman, killed 7 people, including himself, during a Sunday service at a Sikh temple. What is remarkable about this situation is the way that the Sikh community have reacted to the killings.
The Sikhs believe that anger is one of the five sins, and have therefore reacted in a calm and patient way. For Sikhs anger is pointless, and sinful. In the Sikh religion they try to avoid five vices that are: covetousness, greed, material attachments, anger and pride.
Police Chief, John Edwards, said: “In 28 years of law enforcement, I have seen a lot of hate. I have seen a lot of revenge. I’ve seen a lot of anger. What I saw, particularly from the Sikh community this week was compassion, concern, and support. What I didn’t see was hate. I did not see revenge. I didn’t see any of that. And in law enforcement that’s unusual to not see that reaction to something like this.”
For anger management specialists, this attitude towards repressing anger is troublesome. This is because there needs to be a healthy relationship with how you express anger in your lives. It is about finding balanced ways of stating your anger. By bottling-up, or in this case being forbidden to show your anger, this anger will eat you up from inside. Eventually it will become too much to handle, and will either lead to an explosion of anger- often violent, or a mental and physical break-down.
When the body experiences something that makes it angry, scared, or shocked, it releases hormones that prepare us for what is known as the flight or flight response. These hormones are called adrenaline.
When we suppress our reactions there becomes a build-up of these hormones in our bodies. This imbalance can lead to illnesses such as insomnia, nervousness and lowers our immune system. It can even lead to heart attacks.
In circumstances like this where there is huge pressure not to sin and show ones anger, how can the Sikh community begin to heal themselves? We say that this is a dangerous way to deal with anger, better to express your anger, than to repress it.