March 23, 2009
"Anyone can become angry-that is easy-but to be angry with the right person, at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way- that's not within everyone's power and that is not easy." -Aristotle
The recent revelation that AIG paid to its executives $216 million in bonuses has angered the public. The reaction is understandable not only because of what seems to be another expression of excess in corporate America but because AIG is on the brink of bankruptcy and has benefited from $170 billion stimulus from the Federal Government. That of course means that the taxpayers, (you and me) are footing the bill. The word most often heard about those bonuses is "outrage."
If my math is correct, the bonuses represent a little more than 1/10th of 1% of the stimulus package AIG received. Furthermore, the hypothetical cost of the bonuses to each taxpayer would amount to $1.56! Not much to be outraged about.
However, it is of course, the principle of injustice and unfairness that have people upset.
Anger is a legitimate emotion. We become angry when we think we have been wronged or taken advantage of. We become angry when we believe we have been the victim of injustice or unfairness.
However we rarely get angry when someone else is the victim of injustice. That is regrettable.
Below are some numbers that should get us outraged:
The number of victims of domestic violent - 32 million.
The number of children that go to bed hungry - 13 million
The number of adult illiterates - 7 million
The number of homeless (adults and children) - 600 Thousand
(These numbers cover the U.S. only)
Anger can have a moral value. It should lead us to corrective action. We should try to see how we can individually "make a difference," correct an injustice however apparently small our action may seem to us.
As Bede Jarrett, the Dominican English priest and author once said:
"The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough."