Do not pass through the streets of the hot-tempered and quarrelsome, lest your heart be filled with anger, and the darkness of delusion dominate your soul. 
Such a warning from St. Isaac the Syrian, when taken literally, is not particularly applicable for me. How often do I travel down streets filled with angry people? I wouldn’t even know whether or not the people on a street are angry since travel by vehicle mostly detaches me from my surroundings.
But I think the spirit of what St. Isaac writes here is even more applicable today than perhaps it was in his time. How often do we log on to Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media and see memes and rants from people who are outraged about something? How often do we see people arguing about politics or religion? How often are we sucked into those debates only to regret the amount of time and energy that we’ve wasted quarreling with a friend, family member, or total stranger? Even when I avoid commenting, I find that some “outrage” that a friend has shared often sticks with me throughout the day. I either share in his or her outrage or am annoyed at their anger.
It is the 21st century and I’m not going to suggest we unplug from social media, though that would probably be one of the healthiest things for our nation. What I would suggest, however, is that we unfollow those who often post things online that stir up our emotions, that includes friends, groups, and even news agencies. The latter have mastered the art of toying with our emotions under the guise of keeping us “informed.”
I have personally found great benefit from overhauling my social media usage this year. It has brought me more sanity, clarity of thought, and peace of mind throughout the day. I would encourage you also to join me in trying to avoid the “digital streets” of the outraged, the angry, and the quarrelsome.
 The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 17, pg. 216. Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2011.
Digital colorization of old street photo by Sanna Dullaway
5 thoughts on “Avoiding Angry Streets”
What a breath of fresh air!
I live in a senior’s subsidized apartment and the amount of negativity, complaining and verbal abuse is just overwhelming. I like to – and do – socialize with these good people but after a while of listening to them and trying to get us on more healthy ground I just need to move on, sometimes literally.
I keep saying to myself: “It’s where they’re at. Just love them and don’t judge”. I pray for them every day. Sometimes we can’t avoid the “angry streets”: I live on one…
I think we must, with God’s grace, bloom where we are planted.
I think you’re right, Claudette, that sometimes we can’t avoid the angry streets and we must make the best of our situation. May God help you where you are, it sounds like it can be difficult.
When we can, we should avoid the angry streets. Such avoidance is possible particularly online with some effort to unfollow or block people/groups that rob us of peace.
Interesting posts about angry people. For me if I find myself getting angry I stop and pray . Pray for any spirit that interferes with my spiritual life. I also pray at work and going to the bank. Getting groceries and walking the dog. If you pray without ceasing Gods grace shows through. The enemy can’t stand happy content individuals. He tries to interfere with your happiness in life especially if you have a deep relationship with God.
Trust me I know I’m a type a person can get upset in many things that’s my old self and I was much younger then. I have learn if you constantly pray your chances getting angry much less. I hope this insight helps. Works for me!
Your sister in Christ!
Yes, you are correct, Maria. One of the keys to reducing anger (and pretty much any other sin) is constant prayer. Both the scriptures and the fathers of the church teach us to pray without ceasing. Glory to God he has given us this weapon to use against the enemy!
Thank you for sharing this, Jeremiah. The comparison to the digital “streets” is very insightful. It gave me a lot to think about.