August 10        

Today's quotation:

Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy:  its after-flavor, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.

Charlotte Brontė

Today's Meditation:

Revenge tends either to be a heat-of-the-moment thing or something that a person plans for a long, long time.  In the heat of the moment, it seems somewhat understandable for someone to want to "get back" at another person who has hurt them somehow.  Revenge is the result of emotion then, something that hasn't been thought out-- and when it's done, one has to live with the consequences of having purposely hurt another human being.  This can be especially difficult for someone who considers her- or himself to be a kind and compassionate person.  The action of the heat of the moment contradicts completely the kind of person they claim to be.

When one has time to plan revenge, one is purposely abandoning kindness and compassion and working actively to hurt someone else.  Perhaps that person has hurt them, and that's why they want revenge.  If that's the case, we have to admit that another person's actions have caused us to abandon our authentic selves and to lose our integrity-- instead of acting the ways we know we should, we make a great effort to hurt someone.  Living with this type of revenge can be even more difficult because of the purposeful nature of what we've done.  We've had plenty of time to take the higher road and forgive and move on, but we've chosen instead to hold on to our anger and harm someone else.

Bronte warns us of the aftertaste of revenge.  We may feel a self-righteous justification for what we're doing, but how are we going to feel knowing that we've done what we've done, that another person's actions have caused us to compromise our integrity and our virtue?  I know that the few times that I've felt a need to take revenge on someone else, the moment might have felt somewhat satisfying, but immediately I was struck by the cognitive dissonance that must result when one performs an action that goes against his or her values.

Revenge brings me no satisfaction, and I suspect that very few people feel good about having hurt another person, no matter what that other person might have done.  I don't want to compromise my own happiness and satisfaction with life by doing something that I know to be wrong, so I choose to make sure that revenge is not something that I seek, no matter what the circumstances.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many of us feel that revenge is something that's somehow "natural"?

What are some of the long-term effects of taking revenge?

What are some of the alternatives to revenge that are in sync with the life you wish to live?
For further thought:

Revenge. . . is like a rolling stone, which, when a person has
forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.

Albert Schweitzer

more on revenge



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