The Powerful Desire for Revenge

grenadeI remember my powerful emotions when, many years ago, during the hazing period at a local university fraternity, the recruits were required to swim across a small lake on the campus. One young man had never learned to swim but he was told, ‘You don’t swim, you don’t join.’ He went into the water, sank to the bottom and drowned. Their defense was that everyone had been drinking.

For years, my chest tightened when I thought about what happened to that young man, but back then I thought, “If he was my son, I would make it my life’s mission to tear this university down.” I wanted revenge and the boy wasn’t my son! I wanted revenge, even though I believe, for the purpose of spiritual advancement, we choose our parents, our lives, and about how long we will live before we are born.

The rage at the seeming senselessness of so many incidents and the powerful desire for revenge is, to a large degree, why our world is not at peace. If you lived in a place where a wall separated you and your enemies, and they shot grenades over the wall at you, and you shot grenades over the wall at them, and members of their families died and members of your family died, could you become a peacemaker? Could you be the first to stop lobbing the grenades? If you stopped, but they did not, would you and your family just stand there and die? If they stopped, would you, also, giving up your war for . . . for what? The land? A principle? A belief that God loves you more than them?

No matter how holy any terrorist (or anyone standing on ‘God’s principle’) tries to make their attacks or justify their motives, war is war. War is death. War is human. War is hell. People standing on God’s foundation, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., make peace, not war. They see the never-ending cycles of revenge. They transcend their outrage. They put the problem into God’s all-healing hands and ask to find solutions in inspiration. They understand, they compromise, they heal, they make peace, but only arm-in-arm with God. Remember, where God is, there is love, forgiveness and compassion. Where God isn’t, there is war, acrimony, and arrogance.

“You shall know them by the fruit they bear.”

Seeking Revenge?

You’ve probably heard stories of revenge, the rage that fills the person wronged and his commitment to destroy the perpetrator—perhaps many others like the wrong-doer. Even when the settling of scores is complete, the hurt doesn’t go away for the man seeking revenge. In fact, his own crimes have added to the weight he now carries and he can find no peace. That’s how revenge is—a temporary surge of righteous power to carry us through a door we should not enter and from which we will not return as the same person.

It’s not easy to recover from a heinous crime. We must choose to take the higher road, or we will not make that journey; we will take another road, perhaps sorrow-filled, anger-filled or experience a mental breakdown. Or the heavy toll revenge requires.

I’ve used these principles to survive the things that hurt me most:

1-I’ve accepted that we have more than one life, and the law of karma—that everything happens for reasons we may not understand, and that we all choose our lives before we are born, which probably include those experiences that will help us to better understand our human nature and how we made the mistakes we did in our past. We may ‘owe’ the universe’s scales of justice and from the quiet, reflective and wise space between lives, we choose to pay back what we owe, no matter how painful it may be to live through it.

2-The same laws apply to everyone, even the people I love, no matter how I much I may hate what happens to them.

3-That I am responsible for everything in my life, both the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, and that no other person has power over me unless I give it to them. Even if we should die for not relinquishing our power to another, it is our choice to do so, for no one owns us.

Jeez, what a mood I’m in. I’m not even sure why I was thinking about revenge, but here I am, writing about it. I’ve felt the intense desire for revenge, but haven’t gone down that road yet. I hope I never do.