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The Candid Conservative: An absence of malice
Thursday, 02 May 2019 15:19
Special to the Daily Planet

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” 
—  Winston Churchill


The problem

We live in a time of accelerating malice. The peril of this attachment mirrors an accelerating plague.

Dictionaries variously define malice as, “a desire to cause distress, pain, or injury to another.” Note the progressive acceleration from irritation to mayhem. Malice is a bug that eats its own home. Where it’s licensed in, reason and love are chased out.

That outcome is birthed in malice’s addictive nature. Malice feels good – sometimes really good – and we want to repeat things that feel good. Feeling good is attached to a dopamine fix that craves more of itself.

Mind if we spend a few minutes inoculating you against the epidemic?

Spotting malice zombies

People of malice are like enemy warships – the sooner you pick them up on your radar, the better you can protect yourself. There are a few clear give-a-ways.

Malicious people are commonly a conflicted stew of intensity, defensiveness and aggression. One is reminded of a dated battery that leaks acid – except these never seem to run out of juice.

 When the forces of darkness are in charge of the script, discussion is not an option. Angry people prefer a lecture format whereby they pretend to be the learned scholar and you submit to your presumed role as the stupid student. 

They achieve their confidence through a corrupt approach to rightness. Instead of looking at a problem, researching the facts and drawing a reasoned conclusion, these folks corrupt and reverse the process. Maliciousness takes a position, searches for information to support that position, and then declares a problem that fits their hidden agenda.

Malice junkies are zombies anxious to recruit you and eat your brain.

Angry leads to misery

An up-front reason to avoid anger, malice, hate and violence is the relentless marriage to wretchedness. The latter is nature’s attempt to steer us in a better direction by packaging these toxins ounce for ounce with depression. Show me an angry person and I will show you an unhappy person.

There is one confusing exception. When anger is in charge, there is a temporary sense of elation, power or energy often confused with happiness. Remember the mob at the Kavanaugh hearings? They certainly seemed to enjoy their 30 seconds of fame. Fast forward to a few weeks later and it’s a fair bet that high landed flat on its face.

Happiness finds no lasting traction in the dark arts of Anger, Inc.  A misery hangover is the ultimate destination. 


It doesn’t work

Anger and its family have another Achilles Heel – under most circumstances they’re not very effective.

 The why is easy. Anger makes you reactive verus proactive. Anger is clumsy and usually stumbles toward overkill. Anger finds us doing the equivalent of using a shotgun to take out a mouse – a mouse that frequently doesn’t exist except in our agitated imaginations.

Collateral damage is also a problem. Anger splatters. An example – getting mad at one’s spouse in front of children damages the children as much as the spouse.  

Watch the better professional boxers, ballplayers or politicians. They rarely get angry because anger and its cousins make one foolish. With our human proclivity for natural error, who needs more stupid?

Think of malice as a lesser form of methamphetamine – with similar negative impacts.

It’s not the Christian thing to do

Though the organized opposition keeps trying to convince us that God and faith are dead or dying, it remains that most Americans retain their Christian credentials.

The compass for our faith – the Bible – is clear on which power source retains firm connection to malice.

The forces of darkness are above all else a recruiting agency. Similar to an unscrupulous car salesman, their mission is to sell you a lemon for far more than its worth. Reliably, that purchase will leave you stranded.

If you’re a Christian and you license yourself to indulge anger, malice and other hostile mischief, reflection on how one is measured by their deeds, not their lofty declarations, might be in order.

Attempting to find solace in the angry actions of our faith’s namesake – Christ – will leave you disappointed. Over the course of his life’s journey, he got mad roughly four times – three of those on the day before he faced the cross.

Malice, in any form, is about as far from Christ-like behavior as one can get.


Anger is a skill mastered by the weak 

Anger is a skill mastered by the weak

Ever notice how small dogs bark the loudest? That’s nature’s way of helping the vulnerable compensate for their weakness. That’s not a bad strategy for a chihuahua – it’s very bad for humans.

We’re put on this planet to learn and grow. From the day we take our first breath to our last, the mission is stuffing our head, heart, hand and spirit with new knowledge and wisdom. Barking at the moon – or the latest social justice fad, perceived insult, or Victims-R-Us fascination – assures regression versus advancement.

One of the first ways to flag fake love from real love is the use of anger and malice to prop up the pretense. Run from anyone who stomps their feet while pretending to be a benefactor.  

Creatively and cleverly affecting real change does not come cheaply.  Relying on anger and malice as a foundation for social improvement is the equivalent of tipping wait staff with pennies.


A better solution

A bullet-proof vest of anger and malice is like an eggshell. It appears to be solid and strong, but actually makes one quite fragile. It doesn’t take much to crack a person protected by rage. There are more effective plans.

A good starting place is to resist the temptation to treat life and other people too seriously. The world is crazy and always has been. You can treat foolishness responsibly, but treating it seriously will eat you up. Levity is the best antidote to absurdity.  

Like mud on a pair of boots, anger builds unless you scrape it off. The best way to do that is through forgiveness. Yep, when you forgive your transgressors you set yourself free from their negativity. They are left all to themselves in the misery zone.

The opposite of malice is love and it’s entirely possible to love people without liking them. Love is an independent action that should not be banded with earned consideration. When you love people whether they deserve it or not, that love serves as a shock absorber that cushions the soul of the loving. People who work at love have a Teflon-like coating that repels the best efforts of the malicious.

It also helps to do an occasional world inventory. Do we really need any more road rage warriors, office gossips, conflict enthusiasts or critics? Is that a club you want to belong to? Do you find malicious people striking, secure, stable or satisfied? Have you ever – even once – awakened in the morning and declared your wish to make the world a little darker with your own personal brand of nastiness?

Distancing yourself from malicious people finds good traction in the “three strikes and you’re out” approach. After a couple of unsuccessful efforts to redirect their antagonisms, it’s a pretty good bet you can’t win a rigged game. On the third strike, it’s time to take away the bat.

Staying on the right thing side of malice does not require perfection. In a fallen world we’re all tempted by moments of imperfection. Thankfully our character is best measured by where we live, not where we visit.

In the end we’re all stuck with the stark reality that good stuff is rarely easy stuff. Anger and malice are effortless downhill pursuits. The countering agendas of love and maturity – like hiking a steep trail – take work.

In a nutty reality, it’s smarter to look up than down….

Carl Mumpower, a psychologist and former elected official, is the past chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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