Given my personal and spiritual beliefs, coupled with the state of the world, I often have difficulties consolidating my understanding of the world’s apparent increased oversensitivity. Although I believe we should all treat each other well, the world has become a place where everyone is offended at the smallest thing.
As a people, when someone does something to wrong us we feel compelled to act or react. Sometimes this reaction can have adverse or negative effects; not only on the person we seek to react against. This brings us to contemplate the difference between seeking justice against those who have wronged us and getting revenge. Where is the line? What is the difference?
Justice is defined as bringing a “just behaviour or treatment” against another. Although normally used in the scope of upholding laws, it basically means a fairness, focusing on impartiality and objectivity. The whole point of justice is to make things right, all the while maintaining the right.
Revenge is defined as “the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.” This one provides more of an opportunity to obtain retaliation; since they hurt me, I’ll hurt them!
Both of these options allow for a repayment of a wrong done to us, but one creates more of an extreme than the other. Is one really better than the other?
The reason justice is blind is because is allows for the wrong to be righted with objectivity and impartiality. Meanwhile, revenge is mostly about making one feel better by causing harm on another. Revenge may make us feel better (although it plays hell with one’s karma) but justice allows for an actual repayment of said wrong. And even though revenge may feel as though the scales are being balanced, the cost is often far too high for the payback.
This is a difficult concept to explain to someone who, for example has been personally attacked or has had a loved one attacked. When extreme violence is inflicted upon us, as animals, our instincts dictate that we fight back. At least in most cases (fight or flight syndrome).
So, what about someone’s direct or indirect actions cause a general hardship in one’s life? For example, a person who speaks untruthful words that upset the balance and harmony of another person’s life or perhaps destroys their current WAY of life. How does one seek justice when everyone else’s eyes are on you as opposed to the person who caused the damage? Does it become acceptable to seek out some form of revenge on this person?
A lot of this is speculation, some of it is based on recent events within my own life. However, it’s important to remember that both these things, justice and revenge, have their place in the world. Although the first is generally more widely accepted and appropriate, the latter can often be the only way to truly obtain justice.
The important lesson for all of us is that no matter which avenue is pursued, all of it is for naught is it isn’t combined with forgiveness. Even before justice is served or revenge is obtained, being able to forgive the person who has wronged us is an important first step in ensuring our well-being. ☯