It’s Only Revenge If I Say So

We’re always seeing that old French saw about revenge being a dish best tasted cold. Or the Chinese advice that he who digs a grave for and enemy must dig two – one for himself. Or watching ” The Princess Bride ” and Inigo Montoya’s long running gag about revenge. But very few of us really get a chance to practise any of these for ourselves – because there is rarely a chance for revenge per se.

This is a little unsatisfying, whichever end of the moral scale you wish to balance upon. You don’t really get a chance to be good or bad. The thing that you have to do is take whatever happens as revenge. Then you are never disappointed.

First off, is there really a need for revenge? If someone has robbed you and has gone beyond any possibility of capture, taking the loot beyond any possibility of recovery…you really are never going to have revenge and/or justice. All you’ll get for reviewing and reliving the robbery is sadder more distressed.

In this case there is no revenge  – and you need to put all the psychological pressure you feel under to a different purpose. If you can turn it to making yourself happy by some means – activity or study or meditation  – you can work through it an actually get a positive return. You’ll never get it from the guilty party, so make it for yourself.

Secondly, If revenge is possible for some hurt, what sort will it be?

Legal? That can sometimes be done through the justice system if the thing is a serious enough criminal affair. It will be taken out of your hands and you may be just a part of the evidence and the story. If this happens, review your moral stocks and see if you can forgive the crim or at least let it become neutral enforcement of the law. If you start to inwardly cheer at their downfall, you risk becoming a sort of monster yourself.

Illegal? Well, there are degrees of illegal, but they each go athwart the law that governs us all – and real examples of successful revenge gotten by criminal activity are rare. We can read George Hayduke books and listen to pub stories all we want but in the end they are just made-up tales. If you do illegal activities, you stand a chance of being the one in front of the magistrate.

But what about the opposite approach. The revenge of kindness. The revenge that forgives the offender? That works surprisingly well if they are at all amenable to reason. If not, it is wasted effort, and may draw more scorn on us than we had in the first place.

If, however, the offender is a person who values a social position, public forgiveness can be very effective revenge. Most people who can be wakened to a sense of sin wish it to be a secret thing. Make it public by forgiving them where others can take note and you apply a good deal of pressure backwards in time. As we’ve said before, if you forgive someone at the same time every day for a month, they will never again look at that time on the clock without trembling.

Best revenge? Well, the best revenge is time. If you are lucky it eventually soothes the wound and removes the hurt. If you are really lucky it removes the memory of the face and demeanour of the offender, and as there is the certainty that you will meet them again in the street one day…your passage without recognising them will show them their basic powerlessness. Make sure of one thing – someone who has done you a serious injury will never forget you – if you truly forget them, and they know it, it will be as acid in their soul.


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