An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth is the Dumbest Advice I Ever Got
Nothing damages our psyche more profoundly than the betrayal, abuse, humiliation, larceny and abandonment from the people in our lives. These can be life changing traumas that can affect us for years. The unbearable pain you feel can lead you to anger and to want to get even with those who hurt you, but I have found that it is not wise to pursue revenge.
Anger and Revenge
Confucius, the Chinese philosopher who has influenced Chinese culture to the present day, once said;
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves,”
Confucius understood anger is an unpredictable feeling. It can fuel one to act without thinking about the consequences. Anger can exaggerate your hurt and lead you to plot actions that will only perpetuate more anger and retaliation. The great philosopher knew that if we lived by the teachings of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we would all be toothless and blind.
Case in point is the Middle East. No one can point what triggered the hatred and many wars that are part of their history. Two things, however, are clear, they have extracted a lot of revenge there, but they have dug a lot of graves as well. .
What is the alternative?
I have been a vengeful man. Growing up in an orphanage taught me you could never let a bully get away with striking you without punching him back. This helped me survive as a kid in that orphanage, but it doesn’t fit adult situations.
Fortunately, although thoughts of revenge can plague me as an adult, I have not followed through on them on any scale. But I have seen the damage by those seeking revenge done on themselves and those they aim to destroy. Confucius was right. When seeking revenge, you vibrate at such an irrational and negative frequency you will doom not only the person (s) you seek to hurt, but also yourself and your future prospects.
St Francis of Assisi lays out a different alternative in his Peace Prayer when he says;
“Make me an instrument of your peace.”
Becoming an instrument of peace relies on the premise that everyone — including the most hateful person you encountered — is doing the best they know how. They were born innocent and, just like you, their experiences, relationships and environment formed them.
Living as an instrument of peace does not require you to allow abusers to steamroll over you, nor does it make you joyful and grateful for the bruises and broken bones — both figuratively and emotionally — you have received. Taking the path of St. Francis of Assisi is a courageous path because it requires you to stand up against injustice, speak truth to power, challenge those who would hurt others, become a teacher and inspire others to stand up for peace. An instrument of peace knows that staying silent against injustice and violence will open the door to the suffering and destruction of our civilization. The difference between this and the path of retribution is that you take this action free of the desire to retaliate against those who did you harm. You re taking action because you believe in the righteousness of your cause.
You don’t have to be in the cycle of retribution to speak your truth. Every person is trying in their own way, even when their methods are disgusting to you. Revenge can be an inestimable monster that will eat you up and that is why it is so stupid to pursue this course of action. It is like trading civilization for our Neanderthal beginnings. There is no benefit to anyone in doing that.
Going through a difficult life transition?
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