The feeling of resentment for real or imaginary wrongs is one of the most subtle forms of error lurking in the human mind. It is among the hardest to detect and the easiest to excuse. One reason for this subtlety is the fact that the real character of the feeling is often unrecognized; or if recognized, it is excused under the guise of righteous indignation, or cherished as only a desire to administer just retribution to one who has committed an offense.

The dictionary defines resentment as "a sense of injury or affront with a feeling of anger or ill will in view of real or supposed wrong done to one's self or one's friends." It is therefore an indwelling sense of injury that rankles in the human mind; and as implied in the definition given, it may have for its foundation only imaginary causes, or in other words, no real foundation in fact. But the mental condition of the person harboring resentment is not changed, whether the wrong on which the feeling is based is real or imaginary; so that the results will be the same in either case, and the ill effect on his peace of mind, and incidentally upon his bodily welfare, will be the same no matter what may be the cause. It follows that whether the subject be viewed from the dictionary standpoint, where the cause is regarded as sometimes real and sometimes imaginary, or from the Christian Science standpoint, where the cause of all discordant and resentful feelings is declared to be unreal, is quite unimportant, since the question is one concerning the effect upon the person who allows this resentment to rankle in his thought.

In an extreme case, suppose a person permits the feeling of resentment to take the form of violent or uncontrollable rage to such a degree that he seeks to do violent bodily injury to the one who he feels has offered him the affront. Such cases are recognized by almost every one as most deplorable, and the victim of such an uncontrollable temper is pitied by most right-thinking people; but when a person is able to control his temper, extreme indignation is often looked upon in an entirely different light. In fact, great anger and intense indignation over supposed wrong are sometimes considered quite commendable qualities, and calmness under such conditions is supposed to indicate cowardice. It does not appear to be generally understood that this indwelling hatred does as much harm to the one who harbors it as would an outburst of the more violent kind. It should not be inferred that wrong is to be looked upon with equanimity, and that there is to be no resistance against wrong-doing; on the contrary, we should strive to overcome it wherever it may be found. This should ever be done with a desire to help the wrong-doer to change from his ways,—to do him good rather than harm; to help him to cast out the evil spirit, and assist him in freeing himself from the unhappy condition under which he is found to exist.

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True Sympathy
November 13, 1915

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