Is revenge and vengeance in us?


I wonder whether it is happening in our beloved country. But I guess anyone in the scene will surely feel the real shake of it.

Either it’s revenge or vengeance, the statement seems political.

Revenge is the hurtful side of reciprocity, and many terms are related to the concept. The goal of revenge is to erase shame and humiliation and restore pride.

Vengeance is pursuing harm to your offender as retaliation for the wrong you perceive they caused. It is a passionate desire for revenge.

Both revenge and vengeance is a terrible human response against injustice and inhumanity. The principles of justice and equality, along with forgiveness, are the best cures to tame this terrible human response.

Thus, it is only the politics of democracy that can enforce these principles and manage to avoid the idea of revenge dominating social and political interactions.

The politics of power and authority are not only the forms of expression of some sort of revenge, but also enforce the idea of counter-vengeance by promoting counter-injustice and humility.

Webster’s online dictionary defines revenge as to avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree or to inflict injury in return for something, such as to revenge an insult.

The struggle with revenge is centuries old. Shakespeare said, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” Shakespeare clearly thought revenge was as normal and predictable as the sun rising.

Maybe, but what about the idea that revenge is self-destructive? Confucius said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Gandhi seemed to agree with him when he said, “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Revenge seems to be one of the deepest instincts we have. Who hasn’t said, “I hope he gets his,” or wished that Karma would strike sooner rather than later?

Dirty Harry’s “Go ahead, make my day” resonates across generations. Out of control revenge, attack and counterattack, can be blinding and destroy the lives of all involved. But our instincts and emotions usually serve a purpose.

Researchers and theorists believe that revenge is a form of establishing justice and that the threat of revenge may serve as a form of protection, a kind of enforcement of social cooperation.

Imagine that your neighbor hosts large, overnight parties and his guests continually park so that you can’t get out of your driveway.

If you believe that your neighbor is a rational person who won’t retaliate, you may be tempted to key the guests’ cars or smear them with eggs. If you think your neighbor would “come after you,” then you are less likely to act on your anger.

Maybe the purpose of revenge is in preventing certain hostile actions or the threat of revenge insures people do not hurt you in the future. But sometimes people act revengeful when no good can come of their actions, other than to inflict suffering on others.

People who have been hurt or betrayed seem to believe without any doubt that if the other party suffers, then they will feel better–their emotional pain will lessen. Is this true?

The passion for revenge is strong and sometimes almost overwhelming. But our intuitive logic about revenge is often twisted, conflicted, parochial, and dangerous.

Revenge is a primitive, destructive, and violent response to anger, injury, or humiliation. It is a misguided attempt to transform shame into pride.

Many governments, religions, traditions, and cultures provide guidance on when revenge may and may not be sought.

Unfortunately this guidance is often unsatisfactory because it excludes groups of people, generally leads to escalation, is unevenly applied, and typically leads to prolonged and escalated violence. Choose another path.

* Azizi Ahmad is an educator