Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.
The concept of revenge is as old as history. Almost since the dawn of the written word, humans have had the desire to exact vengeance on others who have wronged us. It is something that we find sweet and satisfying – to know that the other person got what was coming to them, what we think they deserve. We love to get even. We want them to hurt like we were hurt.
Our natural tendency is payback.
The idea is that because they hurt us, we now owe them some hurt in return. And that’s one debt we’re only too glad to settle. In fact, usually it’s not enough to “get even”. We usually want to add just a little more pain… because we are sinful creatures.
It is tempting to try to take on the role as personal vendettas and seek to punish those who we feel deserve it. In fact, our fight for justice is often masking an internal battle: we want revenge.
This is why the Mosaic Law contains the command “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
I believe revenge starts a chain effect. Since “violence begets more violence”, revenge works to perpetuate the problem and what goes around comes around. Endlessly. No matter who started it, but when it is fuelled by revenge… it goes on and on, even generations after generations.
Revenge is not justice. Revenge does not make us a hero. It doesn’t make us any better than those who have wronged us.
As Confucius quoted, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” So unless you’re ready to dig two graves – one for punished and one for you, the punisher – do yourself a favour. Forgive.
Happy forgiving and en(reach)ing lives!