Is Revenge Really Sweet?
better than revenge
Many people seek revenge when they feel they’ve been wronged by someone, or when they feel that a loved one has been wronged. I’m sure you’ve heard revenge described as “sweet revenge.” Is sweet revenge somewhat of a misnomer? It could be even worse than a misnomer. It might actually even be considered an oxymoron. Don’t expect to find any scientific studies quoted here. These are simply my own thoughts on revenge and getting even.
Revenge in popular culture
It’s a perfectly natural human emotion to want to seek revenge and get even, and it’s a big part of American culture. Just think about all the movies and books about revenge. These plots usually depict some innocent soul as being the victim of some terrible crime. The victim then turns aggressor and turns the tables on the original culprit. Most of us get so wound up in the action of the revenge movie or book that by the climax of the story, we’re rooting for the victim to get even, and when the perpetrator gets his “just deserts,” we often experience a catharsis of sorts.
All that’s fine for movie and novel fodder, but how does such a scenario play out in real life? Have you ever plotted revenge? I’m not talking here about getting even with someone on a friendly, harmless level – you know, like repaying a prank or a practical joke. I’m referring to a darker sort of revenge – the type that’s actually harmful and perhaps even dangerous. I wish I could say that I’ve never contemplated this sort of thing, but I’d be lying if I did. When I was a lot younger, I even carried out a couple of my revenge plans, I’m sorry to say.
That was a long time ago, however, and my views on revenge have definitely changed. I like to believe that most of us get wiser as we get older, and we leave most of the hotheadedness and rashness of youth behind us as we evolve into kinder and gentler versions of our former selves.
Is revenge worth the price?
Is sweet revenge really worth the price you might ultimately pay? Think about all the things that could possibly go wrong with your revenge plans. You could get into legal trouble, for one thing. Is revenge worth spending time behind bars? If you carry out revenge at your place of employment, you could very well lose your job. When others discover your vengeful activities, you could lose your reputation and your friends. Getting even probably won't be as satisfying as you imagine.
Another problem with getting even is that it can become an unending cycle of revenge. Someone does something bad to you, so you get even. Then that person retaliates for your reaction. Then you want to get even again. It could go on for years.
The highest price of revenge, however, is the one that will be demanded of your heart and soul. If you give in to the temptation of revenge, you’ll never be quite the same person. When you give in to revenge, you feed the evil that lurks within the human psyche. This reminds me of the old Native American take on good and evil. An old grandfather tells his young grandson that there are two wolf pups residing in all humans. One is good, and the other is evil. The two wolves are always fighting for dominance. The boy asks which one will win, and the wise old man responds that the winner will be the one who gets fed the most. Don’t feed the evil inside of you.
How to combat your desire for revenge
Let’s say that someone has really done something bad to you or to a friend or family member. How should you handle it? Instead of letting negative feelings like hate and anger fester, confront the wrong-doer, face to face. Do it in a calm and rational manner. Explain that you know what he did, and express your feelings about it. Doing so will bring you a sense of closure, and it will also provide catharsis. You’ve gotten it all out in the open, so it’s no longer festering. You’ve lanced the boil of hate, so now it can begin to heal. Once you’ve said your peace, put it all behind you. Don’t give it any more “air time” in your brain.
If you do the above but still have a desire for revenge, try this: Write down all the mean things you’d like to do to get even with the person who committed the wrong. Try to imagine how all your vengeful scenarios would play out in real life. How would your actions affect innocent “bystanders,” like the perpetrator’s spouse and children? Sometimes writing ideas down on paper will give your emotions a much-needed outlet and might even help you to see things more clearly.
Seek peace instead of revenge
Sweet revenge? At my age, I find peace to be much sweeter. I don’t like fussing and fighting and other negative emotions. As a Christian, I find that prayer helps me combat negativity. I try my best to leave it up to God to punish evil. I also believe in karma – what goes around comes around. Mean-spirited people will get what they deserve sooner or later, without my having to intervene.
If you’re not the religious sort who believes in prayer, give meditation or self-reflection a try. Both provide wonderful avenues to peace and to an overall sense of well-being. Instead of tossing red meat to that bad wolf cub, feed the good one. You’ll find that it gets easier with practice. According to French novelist Marie Joseph Eugene Sue, “revenge is very good eaten cold.” I say revenge is better forced down the garbage disposal.