Righteous Indignation As Temper Tantrum

righteous indignation

Righteous Indignation is a Temper Tantrum

What he practiced was Fine Art.
It issued from his being.
His brush was sure, his color strong.
He had the gift of seeing.

So when the lady said to him,
“May I commission you?”
He swelled a bit, elation hid,
said, “What would you have me do?”

“The carpet’s pea green here, you see.
The wall’s a delicate pink.
A piece just there above the chair.
Perhaps a pen and ink?”

‘Innocent enthusiasm’
describes her inspiration.
“A philistine”, was what he thought.
“Picks art for decoration.”

“Would bind my work, not let it free.
Offends my art. Indignant me!

“Righteous indignation,
as bitter as it’s sweet,
is but a temper tantrum
when I don’t get my treat.

“Though blind to it have I not always
worked within constraint:
My moods and pains, shape of frame,
the pallette of my paint.

“What then is art but style and fluff;
Novel structures, whatever stuff.
Where now green rug and wall sits bare,
I’ll make beauty sparkle there.”


At the very core of righteous indignation is this reckoning:

“I don’t like the world as it is.
What I encounter doesn’t suit me.
I want it to be otherwise.”

Petulant thoughts. Like those that drive a child having a temper tantrum.

But that very same righteous indignation motivates people to action;

    to right wrongs,
    to secure justice

. . as it motivates others

    to persecute opponents,
    to commit mayhem and, even,
    to murder people.

We live with a symbiosis of incompatibles.



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