1 And behold, now it came to pass that those Lamanites were more angry because they had slain their brethren; therefore they swore vengeance upon the Nephites; and they did no more attempt to slay the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi at that time.
2 But they took their armies and went over into the borders of the land of Zarahemla, and fell upon the people who were in the land of Ammonihah and destroyed them.
What is anger? We’ve all felt it—at different times, in different contexts, with different level of intensity. Anger can range from annoyance to resentment to exasperation to rage. I think that all of these forms of anger have the following common elements: an intense negative feeling directed toward another person or group of people.
I think that the heart of anger, its root cause, is pain. Something hurts us, and we have an instinctive desire to identify the source of the pain and stop it. As President Thomas S. Monson taught:
We are all susceptible to those feelings which, if left unchecked, can lead to anger. We experience displeasure or irritation or antagonism, and if we so choose, we lose our temper and become angry with others. Ironically, those others are often members of our own families—the people we really love the most (“School Thy Feelings, O My Brother,” General Conference, October 2009).
I think President Monson meant that when we feel pain or discomfort, we don’t have to become angry. We can choose to discipline ourselves and not direct our negative emotions toward other people.
In the passage above, we read about a group of Lamanites who were not able to control their anger. They attacked some of their own people who had embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, and who as a result had promised never to fight again. Without encountering any resistance, they killed 1,005 of them (Alma 24:21-22). Many of the attacking army were so impressed at the courage of these new Christians that they joined them (Alma 24:23-26). But the ones who didn’t join them became “more angry.” Why? “Because they had slain their brethren.” Who were they angry with? Not with their brethren any more. So they directed their anger toward the Nephites, and they attacked the city of Ammonihah.
Notice what happened to the Lamanites in this story:
- They experienced negative emotions.
- Those negative emotions became anger as they were directed at their own people.
- When they stopped feeling angry with their own people, they turned their anger in another direction and attacked a different group of people.
The process started with negative emotions, but the damage began when those emotions were directed at a group of people.
Today, I will follow President Monson’s counsel to control my negative emotions. When I become displeased, irritated, or antagonized, I will choose not to allow those feelings to be directed at others, and I will remember that the people I am tempted to blame may not be the true cause of my unhappiness.