Anger and the bee sting
The Kavanaugh assassin and a personal story
You’ve probably heard now about the abandoned attempt by 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The young man traveled across the country from California with a pistol, zip ties, hammer and an assortment of other tools to kill the Justice and then himself.
Roske said he was angry over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion expected to overturn Roe v. Wade and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead, according to the probable cause affidavit. The criminal complaint states that Roske waived his right to silence and believed killing the justice would “give his life a purpose”.
It’s frightening just how much anger demands of a person.
People delude themselves all too often that their anger comes at no cost, or that it’s virtuous or a necessity. Maybe anger is warranted, many times it is. But the question is actually (for all of us with things to lose)….can I afford to be led by anger in this moment? Ryan Holiday dug into this in his podcast this week.
He spoke of the paradox of the bee. The bumblebee is a fiercely loyal creature. Loyal to the hive and to its queen. The bee does not sting bystanders or disruptors for kicks, no it does it to protect the tribe. We, humans, ascribe motives of anger to bees and hornets, perhaps wrongly, but let’s stick with that view of bees for a moment.
Did you know that after the bee stings, it most often dies? The act of lashing out and delivering that sting severs the bee from its stinger….it can't get the stinger back out. When the bee pulls free from your skin and flies away, the stinger (which is part of its digestive tract, muscles, and nerves) stays attached to the victim of the sting. Then, as a result, they die.
I thought of this kid, Nicholas, in this context. Angry, deluded, depressed, and hopeless. Willing to self-immolate for a place in history as well as silent praise from their tribe. And let’s be clear, there would have been silent if not vocal praise if he had succeeded in his plot. A sign of the times.
Anger has a cost. Don’t let other people tell you to “get angry” about the news, politics or the deeds of others. Do they have your best interests at heart? Do they care about how that anger might work its way into your life tomorrow, or the next day? Or do they simply just have an agenda they’d like you to help advance?
This week it came to my attention that my wife was the subject of slander, disparagement, and personal attacks in a private Facebook group for Northern Virginia activists.
She announced her run for school board two weeks ago and is very bravely wading into the hottest local politics battlefield of our time. I’m so proud of her. So you can imagine my fury when without anyone speaking to her, or knowing her, generated a discussion about her appearance and looks without knowing anything about her. Dozens, maybe a hundred comments from strangers.
I had a few things to say about this. I was angry. I still am. But as I got onto Facebook and searched out this Group, I thought of the bee. I prayed for some peace and wisdom. I thought again of the bee. Would I self-immolate with righteous anger and attack? I thought of the bee…. dead on the ground after sacrificing its internal organs for the defense of its queen. What good is this?
So, instead, I talked to people. I struck up patient conversation and was friendly and disarming. People expect the bee, and they know how to swat at them. So how about don’t be a bee? Don’t sting.
I wouldn’t say I won 100 people over to thinking my wife is their candidate for school board. Not at all. They’ll need to figure that out on their own. My wife will have to do the work herself of earning trust. But five fewer people willing to carelessly slander a beautiful, unique woman whom I love…will have to do as a victory. Your anger does not serve you, you exist to serve it.
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die - Buddha