Growing up, I was mostly a quiet kid. Mostly. Until my buttons were pushed that is... I grew up very Christian, going to church almost every single Sunday without fail. I remember one of the central themes of a particular reoccurring bible study lesson quite vividly. To quote the scripture exactly (now bear with me);
'You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.'
What it's basically saying here is, don't seek revenge. A hard pill to swallow when you're in a world full of evil (and a house full of sisters who steal all your clothes). Unlike most of the other kids in my school, I was taught NOT to hit back if I was hit first in a fight. Luckily, I never got the chance to refrain anyway, but imagine! I know I've said many times before throughout this blog that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, but today I want to look a little deeper into the topic. Is it healthy to have a sweet tooth for revenge?
The topic of revenge has always involved a lot of internal back and forth. There was a time when I would literally sit around and plan certain things I would do to retaliate against the people who have wronged me. A few examples of such would be obviously, my little sisters (every sibling's first natural enemy), and a few people who were on the opposite end of my scorned love. Whenever one of my sisters would take something of mine, I would plot how I'd take that exact same thing from them, times two! If one said something to get me in trouble, I would align forces with the other for a diabolical plan to bring them down as well. That's just how it went in the household, ya know? I do believe this set the tone for future reprisals. When it came to romantic relationships, I was rarely one to cry over spilled milk. I would simply get angry. I'd then sit around and plot on what was the most harm I could cause this person without killing them. Ideas ranged from exposè letters to their parents and friends, to throwing away or destroying their most prized possessions, to more old school methods of calling all my cousins to go and beat them up! Most of my ploys were never actually carried out mind you, but I did think them. The revenge boiled inside of me like a cauldron. My logic was that if only these people could get a (much more potent) taste of their own medicine, I'd feel astronomically better. But would I?
Does revenge ever really make us feel that much better about a situation? I meeean, to be completely honest, sometimes, yes. There is a certain degree of schadenfreude involved in revenge-seeking. It's sort of like, if someone has had "it" coming for so long and they finally do get it, it's quite a pleasurable thing to witness! However, if we are the ones giving "it", does that now make us susceptible to deserving "it" as well? Is it just a never-ending cycle of everyone continually being terrible to one another forever until the end of time? Who will be the one to finally decide, hey, maybe we shouldn't just keep giving each other what we deserve and give each other what we would want for ourselves? I read a great book a while ago called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he spoke about a family feud that spanned over generations. This lead me to look up other families who've had lifelong feuds. Spoiler alert, they always end terribly. It was interesting because, in a lot of movies about revenge, the paying back can go on and on through years of retaliation on family members that have zero to do with the original discrepancy. Seeking revenge can turn out to be quite a high, which can become more detrimental than we could've imagined. Having thoughts of revenge is absolutely normal, but carrying out revenge is on another level.
It is very easy to be consumed with revenge. It can take over your life trying to make sure those who have wronged you are getting exactly what they deserve and not a smidge less...almost like an obsession. On the opposite end of revenge-seeking is the much less desirable option of forgiveness. Yuck right? Who wants to simply get over all of the terrible things others have done to you? No one! Forgiveness is a much concept to grasp if you ask me... and far less (initially) satisfying. It is also much harder to forgive repeat offenders, especially without getting even at least once. People claim they just want justice, but I think most of the time we do actually mean revenge, and there is a fine line between the two. These days, people still do me wrong, as I'm sure they will continue to do. I can only help what I do about it. Harboring angry feelings because of what someone has done to you only hurts you twice. I'm trying to learn to just have the inner peace so I won't even WANT to seek any revenge, ya know? At least not elaborate revenge plots. I'll get my own form of payback by succeding ad flourishing in spite of any emotional or physical hardship. Wouldn't that feel so much better? To know you didn't even HAVE to do anything to get even? As with most things in life, all of this is much easier said than done. But I do believe that generations of humans going tit for tat will bring much more harm in the long run. Wouldn't it be nice to be free from all that? As always, let me know your thoughts on the subject! Are you a revenge seeker or a turn the other cheeker?
P.s. While doing research online for this post, I came across a hilarious website called getrevengeonyourex.com. (There is also a site that lets you send bags of glitter, bags of dirt, and smelly poop!) Yeap, there are entire websites dedicated to revenge!
P.p.s. Speaking of Family Feuds, I've always wanted to go on the show Family Feud. Actually, any game show. Probably Jeopardy mostly though.
P.p.p.s. Another closely related quote from the Bible that I remember was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That one is sort of like a pre-altercation reminder. One that most of us don't live by at all, but probably should more than any other rule. It's the golden rule actually!