I have been thinking a lot about revenge and retribution these past days. A young man who felt rejected decided to take our his revenge on people and went on a killing spree, killing 6 people.
What is it that drives this feeling? Retribution and revenge are both attempts to right wrongs by making someone pay for the damage that was done. It seems to grow out of an impulse not uncommon to most people that when someone is hurt, someone else needs to hurt to make it right. When someone is wronged, it can only be made right by making them pay with some kind of suffering.
Something in us seems to have an impulse for people to suffer if they have caused others to suffer.
A couple of things have crossed my mind as I have thought about this. When does attack and counter-attack stop? Most of the time when we feel like we want retribution, we assume that another has wronged us. But, do we normally act to wrong another? They may take our actions as wrong, but do most people intentionally act to wrong someone else?
Or do we often take out our wronged feelings on other people rather than the one who has hurt us? Sometimes when we are wounded by some behavior at work or in the world, we don’t take our our feelings on the boss (that could result in our losing our job), but we take our our revenge on the dog or on people we love with whom we live. And sometimes we may take our our hurt on ourselves, subverting the our very life spirit while we carry around the hurt in our heart.
So, how do we stop the violence that grows out of a sense of being wronged? Do we give up our passion for justice when we see what we believe is an injustice?
A couple of thoughts—and maybe you have some to share. Share your hurt with someone you trust who can listen to your pain. Maybe the shared hurt won’t longer so long in the fiber of your being. And pray. Maybe the God who resides deep inside you can help you forgive the pain so you are free to live without it’s eating away like a cancer.
These are tough issues. Have any ideas?