Remaining Calm in an Angry World: How Some Cope
By Marlon Day
In late summer 2021, Tonya Bonslater, a Chicago mother of two, was headed home after enjoying a day at the park with her boys when a common courtesy became the catalyst for rage.
“In those seconds, I felt trapped and immediately thought of my children,” she said. “It was very scary.”
Bonslater was baffled by the intensity of the man’s anger.
“I didn’t do anything that warranted that behavior,” she said. “People today seem very unsettled, touchy and stressed.”
In fact, a Gallup Poll found higher levels of stress, sadness, anger, and worry in 2020 than ever before at any point in the organization’s global tracking.
“As far as it depends on you, be the peacemaker,” she said, referring to the Bible principle she applied that helped prompt the man’s retreat. “With the chaos in the world today, the last thing I would want is to add to it.”
Bonslater also said that the videos for children, like “Forgive Freely,” on jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not only invaluable in teaching her sons principles to live by, but even adults can benefit from their practical advice.
Frontline workers, airline personnel, educators and others can attest to a trend of increased aggression, even becoming targets.
For fire inspector Roy La Grone of Grand Rapids, Michigan, such volatile situations have posed a particular challenge. “I’ve had a hard time controlling my anger since I was a kid,” he acknowledged.
In early 2021, on his first day back after a four-month medical leave, he made a simple suggestion to the owner of the factory he was inspecting. In a split second, the man erupted into a profanity-riddled verbal assault.
To La Grone, the walk of 150 feet to reach the exit door felt like an eternity. The business owner followed him, yelling the entire way, while the stunned office staff stared in disbelief.
Whether victim or observer, an encounter with aggressive or angry behavior can catch anyone off guard. Experts say remaining calm is key to ensuring that a precarious situation doesn’t escalate. Anger management expert Ryan Martin’s advice in Psychology Today was, “Stay calm, stay safe, and don’t make it worse.”
That is how La Grone responded. “I did everything that I could to try to calm him down,” he said. “I didn’t overreact because I’ve learned that that type of behavior does not help the situation.”
Over the years, La Grone said he has worked hard to minimize his temper. He said that resources from jw.org were particularly useful in dealing with stress, controlling his anger and remaining calm rather than becoming provoked.
“Imitating the good examples of others and applying Bible principles has helped me to remain calm when under pressure,” he said.
More information on how to slow down anger when provoked is available at jw.org.
(Press release and photos submitted by Marlon Day. For more information Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org@rcmtool.org.)