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Dont go around with a chip on your shoulders
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

Edna Towle by all standards should have been angry at the world.

Her husband abandoned her with eight children and a working ranch - a ranch she was swindled out of during the Great Depression by a government worker who knew the military was interested in buying it for what would eventually become part of Beale Air Force Base. He paid her roughly 10 percent of what he got when he turned around two months later and sold it to the government .

She ended up moving into town where she built her own 700-square-foot two-story house by herself that included four bedrooms as four children were still at home. She supported herself and her kids - who also worked - at the cannery and with other odd jobs. It was a day-to-day struggle to simply survive.

Later in life severe arthritis crippled her forcing her to move painfully slow with a cane.

She never complained nor did she ever get angry.

Edna Towle was my grandmother.

As a 5-year-old my greatest joy was going to grandmother's on the infrequent occasions when my mom and dad went out to dinner or to some event. It meant playing Chinese checkers and Solitaire with grandmother as she sat in her chair covered with a blanket.

She had incredible patience especially since the one thing I never did as a child was shut up. I could talk up a storm.

During those visits grandmother used every opportunity she could to drill wisdom she learned the hard way into my head.

Her greatest emphasis was the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

Grandmother used different sayings to re-enforce her point.

"Don't go around with a chip on your shoulder."

"If you do to someone what they did to you you're just as bad as they are."

"Don't dare people to knock the block off your shoulder."

To her, it was a major character flaw to allow anger to control your life. Once you let anger set the tone you are well down the path to bitterness and self-absorption.

One wonders what grandmother would think of the world today.

Anger rules. It's also instantaneous.

No longer do we have to wait to come face-to-face with the target of our frustrations or have to collect our thoughts before taking to paper to write a letter. Both time delays always had an amazing way of cooling tempers down.

We don't even have to walk to the nearest phone and then hope the target of our ire is close to their tethered phone. Now we just reach into our pocket and tap the screen to prompt them to take their own phone out of their pocket or simply tap a band around their wrist. And then we let them have it.

The same is true with email, texts, and instant messaging.

We turn every slight into Mt. Everest.

It's gotten so bad anger is how we communicate.

Politicians slice and dice when they're not busy belittling opponents.

People flip strangers off -or worse - when they think they are being disrespected.

We belittle service representatives in our frustration of trying to get help with a product or a billing problem after being on hold for 15 minutes following a two-minute journey through an automated phone tree.

So how is being angry with someone who disagrees with you going to help you convince them to see things your way?

Whatever happened to turning your cheek when it comes to life's annoying infractions?

And why take our anger at a corporation out on arguably the least empowered person that works for them?

If you have a temper, try treating it as a verb and not a noun.

You accomplish very little productive with anger but if you work to neutralize it you might be amazed at how others are more receptive to your views, your frustrations, or try to understand what behavior irks you.

Anger is a cheap, destructive emotion.

As the "we want-the-world-and-we-want-it-now" mentality feed by social media and instantaneous communication has overtaken our lives, we do less and less contemplation and reflecting.

If a woman who probably weighed 120 pounds dripping wet could deal with having the father of her eight children leave her high and dry during the Great Depression, take over running a working ranch to feed her kids, was the victim of a government insider that costs her thousands of dollars, and can deal with the excruciating pain of severe arthritis without being angry then we might be able to handle being told there is a five minute wait for the next available customer service representative without blowing our top.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.