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Righteous indignation is not self-righteousness in which people feel proud of themselves and think that they are always right and no one is better than them.
Moral outrage is external-directed energy. It is a form of reactive emotion regarding Anger that emerges when faced with a situation concerning offensive attitudes, mistreatment, or injustice. Sometimes someone in your life does things that don’t meet your standards and expectations, or someone does such an unjust act against the laws of society and the laws of nature. Anger can occur when negative feelings are sparked and wrongful actions and behaviors come to blame. Under such circumstances, one gets filled with rage.
If we talk about the positive meanings of righteous indignation, we can define it as
“Anger or annoyance provoked
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by what is perceived by unfair treatment.”
Righteous indignation is somehow considered as the only kind of anger which is not sinful. In this regard, St. Thomas Aquinas states that “he that is angry without cause can be in danger, but he that is angry with a cause cannot be in danger.“
One can narrate that to be angry is not always evil.
Pro’s and Con’s of Righteous indignation.
Without the concept of righteous indignation the world would not have witnessed the great leaders and speeches like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”.
But there are also some groups, religious groups who use righteous indignation as complete freedom to condemn others for things like sexuality. Some extremist groups also use this as an approach to harm others. Similarly, there are many politicians who use this concept to cover up their mess or deflect responsibility.
Is righteous indignation a good thing?
Righteous indignation is considered a positive thing when someone with this type of anger is on the right side. Or when someone feels an adrenaline rush when thinking about a situation that is not morally fair or right. It must not be confused with self-righteousness.
If something is happening against the laws of nature, acts of society, and laws of humanity. And you are getting mad at it; then your Anger is righteous indignation. Suppose you want to change that unfair treatment. Or you may be hurt because other people are not considering the unjust situations dangerous. But you wish to spread justice and righteousness; then your Anger is a positive thing.
Here is the example of Mahatma Gandhi. He used his reactive emotion of Anger for a productive purpose and used it wisely. India was under British rule for over 250 years. He used the positive power of righteous indignation to compel the British to leave India. It shows that righteous Anger is a good thing if we use it as a positive power.
What is the difference between righteous indignation and self-righteousness?
Most people have misconceptions about righteous Anger and self-righteousness. The word fair means” treating people equally without favoritism or discrimination.”
When you choose to trust your understanding and stand where you think is right, you do not follow righteous indignation. This is self-righteousness.
The irony of self-righteousness is that a person trusts themselves, their feelings, their desires, their logic, and their sympathies. So they never see the fault in their ways. In this way, a self-righteous person underestimates the feelings, emotions, and desires of others. If anyone has misconceptions about it and considers it righteous indignation, it means he/ she will damage themselves. You have righteous indignation only and only if you feel Anger for the deeds against justice and laws. It would help if you had a passion for the right reason.
How to use this wisely?
You get angry when you see something happening against your will. Your passion can be righteous indignation if you handle the situation smartly. First of all, when you feel the energetic and robust charge of violence, you need to release it. There are a lot of means to get rid of that intense feeling. And usually, such strong feelings stay only for 12 seconds and then can vanish. But if you feel it after 12 seconds, it means you are putting a lot of stress on yourself.
You have to stop assuming that we know things already. We have to stop believing in everything that we see on social media. You have to do your own research & educate yourself before making any assumptions.
Secondly, take a reasonable inquiry and try to decide a course of action to take. Ask a few questions to yourself and relax. Think wisely, according to the situation.
Leaders consider righteous indignation an asset. It is motivating for them to think wisely and to change unfair laws.