Monsieur Chariot

Monsieur Chariot
That Dazzling and Luminous California Metropolis known as The City Of The Angels, USA
June 08
Offering Discreet Tutelage in the Metropolitan Arts to Inquiring Gentlepersons of Variously Misguided Social Persuasions


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 18, 2010 11:08AM

The Favorite Sin of the Middle-Aged

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• Gentlemanly Musings • 
Wrath: Mid-life as one, long, dispiriting, apoplectic rant.
Fuck You and the Horse You Rode In On!
M. Chariot doesn't have particularly rigid religious views. But I do believe that there is a great deal to be learned from the moral, ethical and spiritual ideas which have emerged from our shared human history. I think of them as messages from the ancients, from which we may glean insight into our lives today. One of my favorite classical, ethical references is the concept of The Seven Deadly Sins.
The Seven Deadly Sins have been culled from the worst of human misfortune. Millennia of social, personal and cultural blunders have condensed the rancid stew of lousy human behavior to this sticky, unsavory list: Wrath, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust and Pride. There are many more sins, certainly - I can name 3 more I've flirted with just this morning. But these 7 are considered the majors. Surely, they are part of human nature - when we look within, we recognize each of them. But loose one of these monsters from the constraints - and watch out! 
One certainly doesn't have to believe in God, the afterlife or any particular religious dogma to recognize the problems which emerge when a person - or a society - indulges a bit too heavily in, say, Greed. Take a peek at the headlines, if you've got the stomach for it. Unconstrained Greed can make life a pretty dismal affair for everyone - why, Greed alone can bring about the collapse of an entire civilization! The Seven Deadly sins are handed down to us for consideration by those who have gone before as a kind of shorthand, for Things You're Better Off Keeping A Lid On.
Hieronymus Bosch, The Seven Deadly Sins (and the Four Last Things) 1485
Oil on wood panels. The painting is presented in a series of circular images.
In the large center circle, starting at the bottom and proceeding clockwise:
Wrath, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Pride.
The Return of Wrath
 But Wrath is the Deadly Sin that appears to be making something of the Big Comeback of late, and can be linked to the aging Boomer population. Boomers may no longer have the juice for Lust. They may lack the ladder-climbing energy for Greed. But we'll be damned if we can't still shake the arthritic finger of Wrath! Most people think of Wrath as anger, but that is because we learn only the simple definition of the sin when we are young. For Wrath is, in essence, The Middle-aged Sin. Wrath is the result of that souring of the attitudes in late maturity, when we run the risk of becoming testy, bitter, contemptuous, mean-spirited and resentful. Wrath is the wrong turn at the fork in the road of Middle-age.
Wrathful Five.jpg
Scowling Faces of Middle-Aged Wrath: Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck, LImbaugh, Coulter
Greed - that electrifying New Sin of the 80s - is now curtailed by a problematic economy. As a result Wrath - invective, bullying, sniggering, bellowing, hate, bigotry, jeers - composes the new social formulae of the day. The screeching yowl of the wrathful can be heard on Fox News Channel, talk radio, political posturings and even casual conversations between strangers at the bus stop. Wrath is in.
 Wrath automatically focuses on the most negative interpretation of events; it trades in contempt, sneers at hope. Confronted with innocence, the wrathful respond with cynicism. Dialogue? Wrath shouts louder so as to drown it out. The wrathful "got theirs" and embrace the uncompromising attitude that you "Go Fuck Yourself". Wrath incites mobs and underlines the motivation to pointless - and endless - war.
Styles of Middle-Aged Wrath: The Resentful Old Coot, The Raving Paranoid Witch, The Hate Granny, The Sour Old Fart, The Bitter Auntie. Which one are you?
Cantankery and Bitchery - once considered poor form and now popularized by a media enamored of caterwauling melodrama - are frequently little more than the New Wrath. Wrathful persons will frequently argue they are "just being honest" - but real Honesty is in fact a virtue, closely connected to Kindness, Responsibility, Discretion, a concern for the well-being of others. Without virtuous intent and in the hands of the wrathful, "Honesty" is just a convenient label for the handiest blunt instrument.
The wrathful shout that their anger is righteous; but psychologists describe real anger as episodic; connected to the impulse for self preservation. Anger is an emotion shared by humans and animals when tormented or trapped, a reaction to perceived, deliberate harm or unfair treatment by others. What distinguishes Wrath is that it is not episodic but dispositional, related more to character traits than to instincts or cognitions. Irritability, spite, sullenness and meanspiritedness are a few of those character traits which define Middle-aged Wrath. Anger seeks justice, resolution. Wrath considers itself the solution.
Wrath's Evolutionary Antecedent: The visceral thrill of shrieking and throwing feces.
We can recognize the wrathful by their belief that the louder, the meaner and the uglier - the better. Like the archetypal Bitter Old Lady, Wrath implies that all we have left is to spit, to scoff, to complain, to insult, to marinate in the wretched stew that is Wrath. Like the classic Mean Old Coot, Wrath looks backward, not forward, is fearful of new people, new solutions, new ideas. Wrath supports - even advances - one or more of the following: cruelty, humiliation, divisiveness, hopelessness, violence, war, miserliness, bigotry, racism and end-times ideologies. It is important that intelligent persons understand, and can discern, between righteous Anger, Honesty and the low-grade human ugliness that is Wrath.

Boomers who are seduced by the cackling call of the New Wrath would do well to think about what that last marvelously entertaining sin - Greed - has recently done for our society. Some of us may remember jumping on the Greed Bandwagon, being swept up by the visceral charge of Greed in the 80s. "More, more, more!" "Greed is Good!"
It did feel good for a while there, didn't it? The bracing turn-on of unapologetic acquisition! But look where it let us off once that nasty little wagon crashed. Could be a long time before we manage to pick up the pieces. Which might be something to consider next time we think Letting Our Wrath Flag Fly is the cleverest response on hand.
 *   *   *
To the extent that we, and those around us, buttress the best in human character by maintaining an at least cursory adherence to the Seven Virtues, we support a sound personal life - and a sound society. It may not give us the same spittle-flecked, artery-constricting charge we get from Wrath - but it's the Adult thing to do.

The Seven Virtues
Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage, Faith, Hope and Love
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Which one am I? Well, I guess the sour old fart sometimes.
How did your Sandy piece not go to cover? I will forever wonder. It was one of your best. I am enthralled, Monsieur, with your gentlemanly musings on the deadly sins, Sir Wrath in particular.
Monsieur Chariot, I thank you for this post! That image of apes and monkeys shrieking and throwing feces -- indeed there is too much of that among boomers. Personally, I find wrath too tiring. And bad karma, besides.

Must say, I've always been sad not to see compassion among the 7 virtues. Always did strike me as an odd omission in that list.
Most well considered post on The Sins, Monsieur. And like Kathy...how did your piece on Sandy not make it to the front page? Oh, the sins of youth...that makes eight. xox
Monsieur, this is truly brilliant and important. I have honestly never seen a more insightful analysis of a very destructive phenomenon that I have yet seen. I am going to print this and share it with all the people I know who are beginning to take on (or already have done so) this wrath-filled persona. Thank you.
There was a reason Steinbeck titled his most famous book, the Grapes of Wrath. Wrath goes hand in hand with cynicism, and cynicism is a weakness of mine. Cynicism is like an enabler that makes it easier for the wrathful to triumph.

"Without virtuous intent and in the hands of the wrathful, "Honesty" is just a convenient label for the handiest blunt instrument." --- Indeed Monsieur, justification for heinous acts is often couched in false truths.
I think Stellaa makes an important point: we should avoid Wrath, but we do no one any favors by being thoughtlessly supportive of whatever they say, simply because they are a friend or are "on our side." We owe it to each other to offer thoughtful and kind criticisms, but without the ill-will that motivates the Wrathful. (As you so brilliantly note, Wrath has become an end unto itself.)
well written as always and interesting. i do think the 'throwing feces' bit belongs under the photo of the 'faces of middle-aged wrath'.

@stellaa: i agree with you about labeling bad behaviour as pathological when it is more often just bad behaviour. it does take work, hard work, to change our ways. and stick to it in the face of those who do not choose to change theirs. (r)
Watching the Hannitys and Coulters and the like, one wonders if it's possible to even have a conversation anymore. It all just seems like shouting a lot of the time.
Give ME the finger, will you??? Well!!!! Same to YOU, buster!!! You ASSHOLE!!!! Oh, why did I even click this post open? Am I a masochist?? How DARE you tempt me with masochism and then regale me with truthful admonishments??? SHRIIIIIEEEEEK!!! **stamps feet (one at a time), jumps up and down, sprains ankle, flaps arms and thrusts obscene hand gestures at computer monitor as hops offstage...**

Ahhh, feel better already! Thank you, too, M. Chariot! (r)
This is brilliant and insightful (and maybe "incite-ful" for those with overly developed wrath).

Along with dumbing down I have noticed an increase in accepted bitchiness and mean-spiritedness as a replacement for wit and respect for others. I think that social networking and cable punditry has furthered this trend, as harshness becomes more acceptable.

I have noticed it more and more on this site as well, where kindness has been a welcome respite from the meanness of most of the web. Wrath usually turns on itself. It gets self-righteous and cliquey and tiresome. People start to recognize it for what it is and stop finding it clever, and the ones using it are usually the last to realize it.

Consideration, wit, and clear thinking when expressing a point of view work well. You can still express strong opinion and not have a wrathful persona. It has served many of us in the long haul and the big fights.
I have to congratulate you on an excellent article. Thank you. This article should be posted on every newspaper, magazine etc. in the U.S. so that people can wake up.
I was hoping to hang on to lust and gluttony for a little while longer, as wrath is so bad for the skin and the digestive system.

(I too have used the flaming finger image in a blog post, by the way: http://mycrappytenants.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html. So now we have the Electric 6 and this in common.)
M. Chariot, thank you for a brilliant dissertation. It was a most stimulating and intellectually satisfying piece to read.
Some days, I wish I could be the monkey tossing fecal matter. But I'd aim them with care at Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh and Coulter.

A most excellent post, mon cher Monsieur Chariot. Merci mille fois.
Wrath requires so much energy to keep it alive. I'd rather be a little more lethargic. Besides, I've heard wrath exercises wrinkles to their optimal level. And there's only so much eye cream one could put on in a day.

Monseiur Chariot, thank you for such a thoughtful post.
This is something! There are so many insights in such a short piece. I really can't pick a favorite, but I was especially struck by,
"Without virtuous intent and in the hands of the wrathful, 'Honesty' is just a convenient label for the handiest blunt instrument."
Absolutely true! And so many claim to merely be slaves of honesty while they have dishonest, hurtful intentions.
I rate your posts before reading. As to relevance, your posts are a soothing balm in an Age of Greed and Wrath. Many thanks.
I'm working on my 7 virtues, I'm dealing with my 7 sins. It is truly a lifelong journey that does activate wildly in middle-age, doesn't it?
"Anger is an emotion shared by humans and animals when tormented or trapped, a reaction to perceived, deliberate harm or unfair treatment by others."

Thanks for that definition. That definition is the anger I felt at 53 when I was experiencing the frequent wrath of the 33 year old I was dating. Maybe he should have taken a wrath management course instead of an anger management course as part of his divorce. I think I understand his ex much better now even though I have not met her and can probably relate to her very well even though she is still in her 20's.

I don't think wrath really has an age range but what you are saying and oh so well, has much validity! The O'Reilly's and others of that ilk on left and right make me cringe. They have stopped listening to anyone else but themselves except for the ones who are their YES peeps. I can't stand when someone tries to explain themselves and these wrathful people talk loud, over them and drown them out. You have hit certain nails on the head. Bravo!
How easily we have transformed from New Wealth to New Wrath -- just move a few letters -- and several trillion dollars from pension funds to ponzi purveyors pockets. I like your list, tho I'm going to take the liberty of a slight modification and label myself a Sour Old Bastard, since that comports with my predilections, and it is in keeping with an already existing and perfectly-suited acronym.
PS I assure you New Wrath is quite popular among twenty-somethings as well, since they are the ones paying the biggest price for New Wealth.
Cantankery and Bitchery - once considered poor form and now popularized by a media enamored of caterwauling melodrama - are frequently little more than the New Wrath.

You've neglected Curmudgeony, but I'll let it slide. ;-D

An extremely tasteful, honest, adult approach to something that needs a little light shone on it. No surprise, considering the author.

*Doffs his hat*

Well done. Rated.
Oh dear Monsieur, have you been following me around? Every day it seems I do karmic battle with what seems to be a lifetime of being Really Pissed Off - but with your help and inspiration, I will attempt the nobler path.
"Real Honesty is in fact a virtue, closely connected to Kindness, Responsibility, Discretion, a concern for the well-being of others."

Indeed. Yes. Well said, as always.
Monsieur, Beautifully written. I want all of us to think about wrath, in the case of the pictured celebs, as a by-product of greed. The ones pictured are paid piles of money by wrathful (and greed-driven ) interests to exercise a semblance of wrath. They are convincing, not simply in satisfying the public's hunger for rage in all its forms, but for taking the responsibility of being an informed citizen away from the listeners.

Thank you for this fine post...BTW, I hope I might see you by the River some time.
My dearest friends at OS ~ You have all been so kind in your responses to this essay. Allow me to point out that the Virtue which corresponds to the Sin of Wrath is Wisdom. (it is not Mewling Politesse, which happens to be M. Chariot's Favorite Sin).
Excellent "musings" & visuals. I'd never thought of it quite like this before, but yeah, hitting boomer-hood & losing the "juice" & "energy" for lust & greed, "wrath" does seem to be the sin we're wallowing in, & getting old does tend to piss one off, which leads to a lot of aging old grumps ranting on t.v. about everything "new," & almost wanting that big bomb to take everyone out because if WE can't be young & gorgeous & filled with hope & opportunity, then by God, NObody should be. Again, excellent-ly written post!, worth sharing & re-reading & discussing.
Your point is borne out everywhere. "The Greatest Generation" = The Tea Baggers.

They're the biggest group of whiney-ass titty-babies the world has ever knows.

And that's beside being racist.
Very well observed, Monsieur! And I love your photo montages (although you had me at Bosch - fascinating painter)

Fox news is like a Wrath-o-Rama, but they have no monopoly on it. I do think it's a danger as we age. I'm surprised to find I get angry more easily than when I was younger, even though I'm far happier than I was then. I'm trying to keep tabs on it.
Ranting Boomer, compassion is indeed one of the 7 virtues - it's a subset of "Love", which is more encompassing than just "compassion" would be, and you could also say that "justice" includes compassion as well.
As always, spoken like a true Gentleman. Rrrrrated with eagerness.
Ah, dear monsieur. You express my views expertly and expand on them with additional views I would have held had I been clever enough - and will hold now.

Having been married to a rageaholic for way too long, I suspect anger and wrath can co-mingle. And watching our society in action, I fear that greed may turn out to be suicidal for humanity and murderous for much of the natural world.

In brazen defiance of the wisdom of the ages, however, I'd like to add an eighth virtue to those you list: humor. Humor is, among other things, a handy antidote for wrath. And it brighten one's liives.

Now, about those 3 additional sins that tempted you this morning ...?
Wow! This should be red flagged!
The finger reminds me of death!
Often, a dead corpse does that!
The groin-mid-area pops up!
A hung man gets a hard on!
It's defiance and Victory!
post-horizon, Yippee!
politico's vice quiver!
ay, a scared hoe boo!
ay, haunt de psyche!
behave and be true!
ay, do a hyphenate!
ay, to hyphenate or
ay, to hyphenates?
ay, to banter Oho?
ay, to babble Ba Ba.
I agree with the previous comments. This piece is brilliant. the visual pieces are perfect! Well conceived and so clearly articulated. It is my hope that the virtue will rise again someday for my children and grandchildren. A society without kindness, civility and generosity can only fail in the end. I then I wonder, is this the end we are seeing? Have we gone too far in our hatred, greed and condemnation of those who try to act out of virtue? I fear we may indeed be a doomed society.
What a kind admonition - I will become wiser as I take it to heart.
-Wonderful to meet Bosch again, and so unexpectedly.
-I suspect the virtue that humans most desperately need more of is empathy (related to love but different).
-Minor correction: "one's lives" was a typo, not a vote for reincarnation; should have been "our lives."
Great post, Monsieur Chariot. I did not even need to see the captoions for middle-aged wrath to know exactly who represents it. By the way, their lives so vapid and empty they take it out on the rest of us.
I can't comment in any way that can add to what you wrote and want the commenters have said. Just this: The world is a better place because you are in it.
Hear, hear, well said Monsieur C. This is indeed a sin of the middle aged and exercising it pushes us closer to grumpy old age. This is a wise warning.
This is very good. Wrath does, indeed, get in the way. It can make getting on with life difficult when having to simply accept the sadness of things not working out as planned and getting on with it. It can truly get in the way of finding deep, rich, and meaningful happiness which, as Boomers are likely late to understand, is tough to come by and time is becoming of the essence. Do we want to waste it lamenting what might have been or working at making what could be? Sign me up for the could bes....
I appreciate what you are saying and agree for the most part. Still, not to be an absolute contrarian, I must politely point out that other wrathful women besides Coulter include Michelle Malkin (having been born in 1970),Laura Ingraham, (1964) and company are not Boomers but seem to be similarly wrathful. Perhaps this is not an entirely generational affliction of the soul. Perhaps it has to do with their mean-spirited, selfish politics to some degree.
The Wrath of God.

Think about that for a moment. Have you ever heard of the Lust of God? Or, the Greed of God? Nope, you haven't. Not even the Sloth of God, even though He famously rested on that Seventh Day.

Why of all the seven deadly sins is Wrath the only one the Almighty Himself indulges in? We say God damn you, not God fuck you, God stuff His Face with you, God wish He had your big-ass SUV, or God, ah what the hell-let it go until tomorrow or whenever; it's too much trouble, you.

Wrath is God's favorite and one and only sin. The Expulsion from the Garden, the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho - God has been ever willing and eager to wreak His Terrible Swift Sword on those who incur His Wrath.

So, at least we're in good company.
The dumbing down and wrathing up of America is painfully obvious in the media and it spills, sloppily and continuously, onto all aspects of our society.

Or perhaps it's the other way around, I don't know.

But a return to civility is needed I say! But how do we get there? A bit more attention paid to the thoughtful and intelligent musings of folks like yourself would help. It sure as hell won't hurt.
this is fantastic! i'm on a pregnancy board these days, and you described the dynamic of many there perfectly... especially the "i'm just being honest" part. honesty is not vindictive, it does not relish wounds so that they can be displayed again and again. and there is a repeating meme that there is something wrong with the people who plead for patience and kindness. "the world isn't like that!" they say. i have to say that i don't wonder why anymore.

it's sad, and i think it surprised me because these people will be mothers someday soon. is that what their kids can look forward to? will they teach them that the world punishes the kind and rewards the shrill?
Mewling politesse is a rough go, my friend. I am sympathizing, not empathizing (please don't ask). I don't know if he still posts here or has gone to that proverbial Facebook in the sky, but a certain OS member distinguished by his absence is not only capable of demonstrating the wisdom you claim to be incapable of, but eerily has used the very same syntax. As Miles Davis said famously once, "jus' sayin'."
Thanks for this cheeky, clever take on modern sins. rated.
A very insightful study. I especially enjoyed your explanation of the difference between anger (situational or episodic) and wrath (dispositional). My favorite line: Wrath considers itself the solution. Powerful statement.

This is a wonderful commentary on the state of human relationships in today's society. Well-considered and brilliantly stated. Thank you for this. Everyone should read it and hold their own behavior up to the uncompromising mirror of the hard truth in your words.

My dear Mme Stellaa ~ You are so correct: there are no quick solutions. The kind of thing understood by Wise Women like yourself.

My dear M. Tawl ~ I beg to differ my good man!

My dear Mlle Riordan ~ Thank you ever so much for all of your kind and warm support for my little rants.

My dear Mlle Boomer ~ I must say, it's difficult to use the toilet these days and not be roused to pick a bit up and... well, one does try to take the higher ground. On occasion.
My dear Mlle Sneed ~ Those who are responsible for the abject dismissal of my post, Close Personal Friends should consider themselves very lucky! I can't very well Let My Wrath Flag Fly today, now can I?!

My dear Mlle Mitchell ~ May I recommend wearing a suit of armor when you do so? It would make me feel so much better, my dear!

My dear Mlle ABlonde ~ Cynicism! Oh yes, I do struggle with that one too. It helps to remind myself that Cynicism Is The Sophomore's Solution.

My dear Mlle Mitchell ~ Very good point about "Ill-Will". Good will seems to be key to the dilemma. There are those of us (including myself) who strike the curmudgeonly pose, but attempt to infuse it with a bit of wit, humor, a slyness. We aspire (operative word) to a send-up of Wrath. Wrath as "entertainment" if you will. But let's face it, Wisdom is still the superior alternative. Not that Wisdom can't be entertaining too! The kind of entertainment that brings to joy to the soul (not unlike some of your photography) as opposed to the wry snicker of self-recognition.
which one am I? Neither - I'm too young to be a baby-boomer. But I do have a Bitter Auntie... Wonderful post!
Brilliant, of course!

I do admit that I like a bit of scoffing now and again. I know it's wrong, but it's like those marshmallows on hot chocolate. You can't just scoff once.
The wrath is just a reaction to greed. Everyone knows, deep down, we're being cheated, not only by the rich, but the politicians they own, which account for most of them. We fled a European aristocracy only to find them with their hands on our throats again, threatening unemployment to anyone not willing to turn a cheek to their ponzi schemes and embezzlement. They will rape this country for all it's worth, then move to Dubai with their billions of stolen wealth. Once a standard for the world, the dollar is now a hollow symbol of a bankrupt empire.
This is one terrific post! What a great look and reminder of some of the most basic of all principles and ones which we need to study a little more closely, while dispelling the wrath which binds our better sensibilities! Excellent, M. C.! Loved this so much and your wonderful graphics to visually titillate our senses. Very, very well done!
My dear Mlle MissingK8 ~ Very good point! Sticking to it is the difficult part. Thank you!

My dear Mlle JustJuli ~ Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Shouting back feels like just stooping to someone else's low bar.

My dear M. ClarkK ~ You can't fool me, sir! I've noticed that you and I share more similarity in attitude than you're letting on!

My dear Mlle Lane ~ "Consideration, wit, and clear thinking when expressing a point of view work well. You can still express strong opinion and not have a wrathful persona. It has served many of us in the long haul and the big fights." A Lea Lane quotation that deserves repeating!
Rare and beautiful, sir. Thanks for this.
I loved the post. This one, and another one I lost when I navigated away from the page to join, will make me come back to this site. At least once or twice.

My dears Mlle Lulu&Phoebe ~ Oh, how I would love to share an espresso at a musty old cafe with you. I think we would have much to chit-chat about.

My dear M. Ortiz ~ I wondered if I were being a bit too harsh - but your kind comment is so very encouraging. Thank you!

My dear Mlle ReluctantMuse ~ Our sensibilities do seem to track, do they not? I agree, Lust was much better for the complexion. Wrath just gives me that sour, pinched look. Unfortunate.

My dear Mlle FusunA ~ I am so pleased that you enjoyed my little... er... rant. Thank you!
These are the observations of a contemplative homme. Tres bien.

I liked your distinction between wrath and anger. Anger can flash, then drain away. Wrath remains. Anger felt with awareness can be a direct line to your animal critter primate self. Wrath sets life apart.

How does one say "rated" en Francais?
Wrath at least has some implied action to it. All I've got to my name is Sloth, Greed, Hope and Love. The greed is never strong enough to win out unfortunately.
and this was a fascinating piece, Thanks for making me think Mr. C!
My dear Mlle Shiral ~ Feline persons such as yourself tend to be much more discreet with the excretions!

My dear Mlle Seijo ~ Ah yes, Wrath does have that dread aging effect, does it not? Both internally and externally, I'm afraid.

My dear LosingMyReligion ~ Whenever people claim to be "Honest", I'm always curious to see what other virtues they display along with it. Honesty without Kindness, without a sense of Responsibility, without Discretion... well, it doesn't seem to generate much by way of Good Will, does it?

My dear M. CoachCaptain ~ Such Graciousness! A virtuous gentleman indeed. Thank you!
My dear monsieur,
Your post (and of course your elegant Limoges) are indeed truly inspirational. I am moved to write a novella that illuminates the dark struggle of my generation and the post-modern times we find ourselves in. I shall title it .....
"The Gripes of Wrath"
This will no doubt come as a shock to my fellow OSers, but even I have been angry on occasion, even to the point of muttering unkind expletives in the direction of inept automobile drivers. But this, as you note, is episodic and situational, not dispositional.

But as I enter deeper into my geezerhood, I fear that the episodic is becoming more dispositional. I just don't have the patience any more. Rather than directing epithets toward inept drivers, now I'm more likely to direct an imaginary 20mm cannon in their direction. While I understand the inherent unfairness in the death penalty, increasingly I see it as an appropriate punishment for crimes such as shoplifting and jaywalking.

And so I wonder where this is leading. What kind of person will I be 20 years from now, if I last that long? Am I going to be an old fart yelling at the neighborhood kids when their softball rolls into my yard? Will I be a Limbaugh dittohead? Only time will tell, but so far the early indications are not positive.
I was just starting to write something about how I've mellowed with age. I believe I'm an exception to the rule. All of our media seem to be consumed with wrath, and frankly, I'm too old for that.
So I'll turn off the hearing aid, pour of a cup of hot cocoa and listen to some mellow music.
Excellent writing, Monsieur.
Hats off to you M. Chariot. Awesome writing indeed. Wrath has always been around but it does seem more prominent these days.

Witness the talk show debates that are mostly gotchas and talking point bellowings. Or the way in which this president gets rudely badgered in an interview; something that the badgerers would have waxed as treasonous had Reagan or Bush been on the receiving end.

Hard to say if cantakerousness is a middle-aged trait exacerbated by the boomers demographics or whether it's resulting from the impersonality of internet communication.

For an op-ed on the virtues, I'll leave you with the Camelot lyrics:

The seven deadly virtues, those ghastly little traps
Oh no, my liege, they were not meant for me
Those seven deadly virtues were made for other chaps
Who love a life of failure and ennui
Take courage-now there's a sport
An invitation to the state of rigor mort
And purity-a noble yen
And very restful every now and then
I find humility means to be hurt
It's not the earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt
Honesty is fatal, it should be taboo
Diligence-a fate I would hate
If charity means giving, I give it to you
And fidelity is only for your mate
You'll never find a virtue unstatusing my quo or making my Beelzebubble burst
Let others take the high road, I will take the low
I cannot wait to rush in where angels fear to go
With all those seven deadly virtues free and happy little me has not been cursed
Wrath and attitude does not equal substance.
Or should that be wrath and attitude do not equal substance? I need an editor, it seems
My dear Mlle Young ~ I've noticed the same intensity in middle-age. It's as if karma is suddenly NOW instead of later.

My dear Mlle Delmare ~ "I can't stand when someone tries to explain themselves and these wrathful people talk loud, over them and drown them out." Exactly! That quality is one of the easiest ways to spot Wrath. Thank you.

My dear M. Cordle ~ I think you may have a point re Wrath and Youth. Wrathful youth ramps up the problem, however. Wrathful Old Farts may sling feces, assassinate character and incite mobs. But Wrathful Young People engage in overt violence, ie, school shootings.

My dear M. BillS ~ Many thanks for taking a few moments to indulge me my good man!

For anyone who is bothering to check back on this blog, I am attempting to respond to everyone, in order! Unfortunately it may take me a few days...
Monsieur -- I have just been enjoying your wisdom, funny and true, and it speaks to the very heart of us, here and now in our culture.

(And I Love your close-up pics as frames of references! It takes specific musculo-skeletal movements to accomplish those faces, and it's always striking to me -- the looks people wear. We say who we are in so many different ways! Perhaps we can start classifying, or at least understanding, folks, candidates, quasi-celebrities as certain vertebrate families, in this way! You can follow my thoughts there...)

And you're so right that the reason these qualities are called sins in the first place is because of the reward they return -- not so enjoyable once it starts coming in. It's meant to be wise, helpful advice...

Breakdown is inevitable, and you can almost see the process of decay in this quality here. Interesting thing is, Love always wins -- literally, in the energy, even, as super-high frequencies subsume all that get in their way...

I happened to walk past what I call The Angry Channel two days in a row, to notice brief stories of Hope, just yesterday and today... Very interesting.

Sorry to ramble here on your post, but I know your story is resonating with many, all over the place! Lovely.

You are a riot, Monsieur, in any era. And your work, my dear, is a classic.
My dear Mlle SixtyCandles ~ I have in fact been following you around and photographing you - for reasons I am not allowed to divulge at this time. ;o)

My dear M. Tarheel ~ You bring up an interesting point that I had not thought of; Middle-aged Wrath may have something to do with loss of/jealousy of Youth. Make sense!

My dear Mlle OwlSaysWho ~ Thank you! I have seen the concept of "I'm Just Being Honest" bandied around so much in the past decade that I've found myself thinking about it a lot. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not interested in anyone's interpersonal "Honesty" if it is not generated by good will.

My dear M. Justis ~ Yes, I agree. Apparently there is a lot of money to be made by getting on TV and ranting and raving. Being witness to Wrath makes people fearful, upset, angry, and those emotions cloud our ability to interpret what is really going on. I'm hoping this essay sheds a little light on the subject of Wrath, to help us respond more intelligently.
My dear Mlle Suzie ~ Your comment really summarized the Wrath Phenomenon beautifully! Thank you for weighing in!

My dear M. Ehrenstein ~ Several posters have suggested that Wrath is not specific to the Boomers, but can be identified in the younger generations. Thank you for pointing out that it can be found in the older generations as well. People do seem to use the "passion" of Wrath to actualize some very ugly and destructive ideas and actions.

My dear Mlle Silkstone ~ Your comment reflect why I see Wrath as having at least some connection to biology and aging. For you and I - and I suspect many others - there comes a passage in middle-age when Wrath vs Wisdom forms a fork in the road.

My dear Mlle Montgomery ~ Thank you for your sublime encouragements!
Monsieur C: excellent and what everyone else said. I will re-read this as I'm writing from Paris with one case of wicked jetlag. Esp after speaking my faulty french toute la journee. r.
You've certainly poked the hornets nest here. BUT-you know I want to know how Sandy is. Later.

Well said my old friend although will you mind if I do put a toe in for lust simply on account of all of these closeted men getting caught drunk or in a bathroom stall?

Anger-Wrath-fear/hate are very much intertwined. One reason we hate is that we don't see the full force of the other's situation. When I can't feel compassion whether I'm fighting with my partner or listening to a news item on the radio—I can ask myself, "What is it I don't understand ?" The more thoroughly we can understand the source of pain—causing actions, the more we personalize the supposed evildoer rather than being caught in projection and assumption, which generally breed more misunderstanding and hatred.

This is genius: "Cantankery and Bitchery - once considered poor form and now popularized by a media enamored of caterwauling melodrama - are frequently little more than the New Wrath. Wrathful persons will frequently argue they are "just being honest" - but real Honesty is in fact a virtue, closely connected to Kindness, Responsibility, Discretion, a concern for the well-being of others. Without virtuous intent and in the hands of the wrathful, "Honesty" is just a convenient label for the handiest blunt instrument."

It makes me think of how folks say, "it's a free country." Freedom means being able to choose how we respond to things. When wisdom is not well developed, it can be easily obscured by the provocations of others. In such cases we may as well be animals or robots. If there is no space between an insulting stimulus and its immediate conditioned response—anger—then we are in fact under the control of others. Mindfulness opens up such a space, and when wisdom is there to fill it one is capable of responding with forbearance. It’s not that anger/wrath is repressed; anger/wrath never arises in the first place.

sorry for the long comment. do you want to come over for a play date?
Pointed and deftly articulate.

"it trades in contempt, sneers at hope." I will hope to commit that to memory Monsieur...what an exacting of this contemporary 'sin'.
My dear Mlle Roddick ~ how I adore your sly commentary! Re: Humor, we are tracking - I too, noticed that Humor was not listed on the 7 Virtues, and wondered about the omission. Good subject for a new essay!

My dear M. James ~ So very pleased that my essay is graced with a sample of your luscious poetry!

My dear Mlle Rainee ~ Do not fear, sweet woman! Kindness, Grace and Generosity will win out in the end. Even if all it does is keep one's own soul intact.

My dear Mme Libmomrn ~ Let's hope that Middle-aged Wrath is eclipsed by Middle-aged Wisdom at some juncture!
My dear M. OEsheepdog ~ Your kindness and grace humble me. Thank you!

My dear Mme MarriedHim ~ Pleased to know that I am not the only one resisting Grumpy Old Age! Thank you for weighing in!

My dear M. and Mme 2HLions ~ Thank you for this bit of illumination on the subject. Wrath does seem to keep us stuck. Acceptance allows us to move forward. Here's to a Hopeful Future!

My dear Mme Docteur Freeborn ~ Like yourself, several commentors pointed out that Wrath is not specific to the Boomer population. I agree. I wrote the essay to help Boomers like myself understand and circumvent the trend. Other generational cohorts may have to find their own strategies!
My dear M. WillyinJC ~ I enjoyed your witty and discerning comment, my good man. But if God is in fact Wrathful, don't you think that would be quite enough wrath to deal with? Must we be subjected to each other's as well?

My dear M. Smithery ~ "Dumbing down" and Wrath do seem to go hand in hand, don't they? Takes a little discernment, a little intellectual fortitude, to see past the pyrotechnics of Wrath. Thank you for your generous comment.

My dear Mme BStrangely ~ Children raised in a wrathful environment - to say nothing of those marinated in a wrathful womb - are most definitely at a disadvantage in life. Thank you for bringing this point to light.

My dearest M. Youdin ~ "Mewling politesse" is the only strategy I can bring to your cryptic comment!
My dear Mlle Hagood ~ So pleased to see one of my favorite new writers lending her support. Thank you!

My dear Mlle Unbreakable ~ Thank you for intuiting, and refining what I was trying to say about the difference between real, righteous anger, and Wrath. So many people seem to be marinating in a cesspool of Wrath these days. Can't be very good for our shared human culture!

My dear Mlle SheilaTGTG55 - Thank you for your kind support!

My dear Mlle Veltman ~ So nice to see the younger generations taking the time to consider this issue. My sympathies re The Bitter Auntie!
My dear Mlle OdetteRoulette ~ Thank you for your kind support. But Scoff with caution, my dear! People have been known to choke to death from too many marshmallows topping their hot chocolate!

My dear M. BreadInLocker ~ A well-intoned screed. Those of us who did not get on the Greed Bandwagon, who practiced Moderation (Greed's corresponding Virtue) have at least partially avoided the mess the Greedy have created. Let's hope that some of us manage to avoid Wrath with Wisdom (Wrath's corresponding Virtue). Who knows what kind of mess unregenerate Wrath plans to make of human culture?

My dear Mlle JustCathy ~ Thank you for your kind support! As you mention, Wrath does have a way of binding us to our lesser selves. My hope is that if we can see Wrath for what it is, we can free ourselves from it's arthritic claw!

My dear M. Indiana ~ Thank you for your kind support! Here's to putting out the acrid flame of Wrath, and fanning the flame of true human Passion!
My dear Mlle Berges ~ Thank you for your kind and supportive comment. I look forward to hearing more from you!

My dear Mlle Greenheron ~ I like your comment regarding how honest anger can reconnect us to our animal selves. Alternatively, Wrath seems to trap us in some kind of sour, hormonal backwater.

My dear Mlle Hyblaean-Julie ~ Well, if you call jumping up and down, flailing one's arms and spitting action, I guess Wrath does have that! Let's hope that intelligent persons who truly want to take action manage something a bit more effective!

My dear M. Tawl ~ Hahahaha! Careful. The Plagiarism Death Squad is afoot.
My dear M. Mishima666 ~ My own Wrath is the result of the frustration I feel when I don't take the time to mine Wisdom to light my path. Still, I find it difficult to imagine a softy like you as wrathful.

My dear M. CrankyCuss ~ Consider yourself one of the lucky ones! Wrath is the wrong turn on the fork in the road of maturity. Apparently you blithely drove right past.

My dear M. TomReedToon ~ Well, if its blessings we want to bestow on the upcoming generation, I think we can perhaps find something a bit more helpful than Wrath.

My dear M. Abrawang ~ Cantankery and Wrath are classically considered middle-aged traits, but there are no doubt additional influences on it's current status as a popular social trend. I hadn't thought of "the impersonality of internet communication", but I believe you're on to something. And thanks for the Camelot-inspired aria - loved it!
My dear Mlle Stuart ~ Great point! Wrath is not really about substance. A substantive argument doesn't need invective, bullying, sniggering, bellowing, scorn and jeers.

My dear Mlle JulieShanti ~ Thank you for illuminating the discussion with your graceful commentary. You are truly one of my new favorites - a light on OS.

My dear Mlle WendyO ~ So pleased you found a moment in your Parisian sojourn to touch base. Safe journey!

My dear M. LaneBrooks ~ Great comment regarding Mindfulness ~ a practice I have some feeling for too. Wrath is dishonest in that it immediately overreacts without truly examining the subject, without allowing a moment for understanding.

My dear Mlle Sparking ~ Thank you - and so nice to see you out and about!
Thank you, M. Reedtoon! I was hoping my essay would pluck a nerve somewhere, inspiring someone to leave a good sample of "Wrath" in the comment section for my readers. As one of the most consistently Wrathful commentors on OS, your submission is effectively representative, if a bit stereotypical.

Here we see a writer who is consumed by Wrath, who sees scorn and contempt as an "effective means to conduct a life". There is a pathos to the desire for "success" - the kind of success that can only be clutched with the bony, liver-spotted, Crypt Keeper claw of Wrath.

A kind of intelligence is suggested, but a limited one; it displays no interest in furthering the happiness or the peace of the people, in making any kind of contribution to the community, the arts, the sciences - its only aim is the burning, anguished ascendancy of the Wrathful self. Readers will note the sneering contempt, the bitterness, the straining, middle-aged sexual impotence of the gesture.

The discerning will recognize echoes of anthropoid, feces-throwing behavior in the symbol of the "dead cat". M. Reedtoon hilariously interprets feces-throwing as a means of somehow improving life, as he is not satisfied with "life the way it is".

We can see why M. Reedtoon's style of discourse should remain a trendy minority form, one suited to the delusional and the emotionally impoverished. Clearly, a culture in which such a style is adopted wholesale would be a sad one indeed.
I actually percolated about your post all weekend and today. Wrath...this is a fantastic and wise post. I must be honest when I tell you that I didn't think about the obvious offenders like Beck or Limbaugh, Coulter, etc.

I thought of my clients, my friends and then, gulp, ME. Easy to point the fingers at others but not my style so self-introspection has been abundant the past few days. After coming off another recent argument with my husband (a lover of a man, but we can behave like middle school children when we get angry), instead of focusing on his disturbing behavior (his is always way more disturbing than mine when we are "disagreeing hah), I looked at mine. And there it was, coming out of my mouth...WRATH...in all its ugly self-centered bitter glory. Enough said, just wanted you to know your post had a very productive impact on my life, and something I will be sharing with my clients as well.