What I Learned While Rioting

What I Learned While Rioting

LootingWhen Emily and I lived in Cusco, Peru the city would shut down every few weeks because people would call for a paro, or protest about something they didn’t like. A mob would gather downtown and start raging. Businesses were forced to close for the day, losing much needed income.

I’ll never forget watching a group try to tip over a minibus full of tourists just 100 feet from where I was. Cops intervened. It got violent.

I remember talking to a cab driver about it. Tourism is the primary industry of Cusco. Why attack tourists? The cab driver shrugged. “People are angry.”

I started thinking about my own struggles with anger and the things I continue to learn. Anger is a secondary emotion that comes in response to:

  1. Blocked goals
  2. Hurt

When you get angry you actually lose IQ points. You lose your ability to be rational. But it’s a good feeling because it gives you a sense of power when you feel powerless. It’s a form of instant gratification.

I think about how often I choose instant gratification over choosing the long path that actually leads to change. I’ve started my fair share of personal riots. Yelling. Attacking innocent bystanders. Sometimes breaking things. All because I’m mad.

Guys like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi won major victories because they chose self-control rather than instant gratification. Self-control is the ultimate human power, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Jesus, God in the flesh, chose the path of self-control and learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8) Unlike us, he actually had power when he was being mistreated. Real power. He could have called down fire at any moment. But he never used it. He held on for ultimate victory.

I have to remember that the big wins come through discipline and restraint played out over long periods of time. I have to hold on in the face of abuse. I have to believe that when I use restraint God takes up my cause. He brings his power into the situation and that’s what brings ultimate change.

Choose the path of discipline and self-control. It’s the harder road. But it pays big dividends in the long run.

…the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:20