Boldness of speech is success; anger is failure. Therefore, if we should aspire to boldness, we must be free from anger, in case anyone should attribute our words to the latter. For no matter how just your words may be, when you speak with anger, you ruin everything. This is true no matter how boldly you speak or how fairly you admonish–in short, no matter what you do.’
–St John Chrysostom (347-407), Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 17
As a former school bus driver, I have seen and can attest to the truth of Chrysostom’s statement here. When I drove bus for a school year, I found out that losing it never helped when dealing with unruly children. (Intimidation, an ominous tone of voice, and an icy glare worked far better than displays of anger.)
If you’re angry, people write you off as a crank or they attribute what you say to hurt feelings or pride or your having an ax to grind — anything but what you really want them to hear, the thing that got you so mad in the first place. Poise is a valuable commodity in all too short supply, in a world dominated by angry callers to talk radio and people like Jerry Springer.
This was never my bus.