sweet," say the ignorant. And they're ignorant because they
don't know the subtle dynamics of revenge and the desire for revenge, the
inevitable letdown once revenge is "achieved." They don't
realize just how their desire for revenge has affected them, and they
don't realize that the other side of revenge--forgiveness--would have been
much, much sweeter for everyone involved.
The desire for
revenge seems to be a cultural norm for some people--that's just the way
things are done, especially in may of the micro-cultures of the
world. Males seem to be particularly vulnerable to the desire for
revenge, but women aren't immune from its bite. The desire for
revenge is the desire to "get even," as if repaying injustice
for injustice is somehow evening scales. It almost always ends up
hurting someone, usually in unforeseen ways.
First off, the
desire for revenge is in many ways an obsession. Obsessions always
pull our focus away from more important aspects of our lives, such as
family, friends, work, and enjoyment of all that we have. Obsessions
prevent us from being present in the moments in which we're living.
If we're so caught up in thinking about this something that someone has
done to us, so caught up in thinking about how we're going to get back at
that person, we can't concentrate fully on any task at hand. How can
we get the most out of any given day if we're thinking the entire day
about something negative that was done to us and how we're going to commit
some sort of negative act against someone else?
revenge always brings us down a few notches. We lower ourselves to a
level at which it's often difficult to respect ourselves, and our
self-esteem and self-image suffer, sometimes unconsciously, but always to
some extent. If the act that was done to us was low enough to upset
us, the act that has to be done to exact revenge has to be just as
low. If we disrespect the person who hurt us, how can we respect
ourselves if we do something just as low? We may feel the momentary
thrill of self-righteous "getting even," but in the long run,
we've diminished ourselves and who we are.
Francis Bacon notes below, people who focus on revenge don't allow the
hurts of a transgression to heal--they keep the wound open by focusing
strongly on it, by making it a focal point of their lives, and they think
that the moment of revenge will cause it to heal instantaneously.
They're wrong. The only way those wounds will heal is through
forgiveness--revenge is merely a momentary painkiller, but the hurt
remains. And it's not a painkiller that one can take over and over,
either. It's a one-time shot that wears off quickly.
known who focus on revenge tend to lose much of what the world offers
them. They don't see the beauty around them, and they don't even
consider the potential benefits of forgiving whatever transgression has
occurred. Worse still, people who have gotten their revenge find in
retrospect that it wasn't nearly as sweet as it seemed it would be.
They find that most people don't share in their glee at having harmed
someone else, and they even find that they feel a bit bad for that someone
I've been in the
situation myself, but I've been fortunate enough to learn rather early on
that revenge accomplishes almost nothing constructive in my life. So
I "get back" at someone--big deal. It hasn't made me a
better person, and it hasn't improved my relationship with the world; in
fact, I've harmed the world by adding to the discord and anger of the
world, rather than adding to the harmony and peace of the world.
Every action we commit adds to one or the other, and I don't want to be
adding any more harm or anger--there's enough of that as there is.
If you really
need to take revenge on someone, then by all means, do so--nobody's going
to be able to convince you that it's wrong to do so. But please
consider the alternative that will help you to grow as a human being and
will help you to have greater peace of mind and a stronger presence in the
moment. Forgiveness is much stronger than revenge, in all possible