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Revenge

by on July 3, 2016

                                                                       Revenge

                                                               by Marco M. Pardi

Revenge and punishment are two different things. Punishment is inflicted for the sake of the person punished; revenge for that of the punisher, to satisfy his feelings.” Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) Rhetoric: 1.10

All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment, please be assured you may do so freely. No one will capture your email, follow you home, or subject you to cavity searches. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

As the pace of attacks ascribed to or “inspired” by one or another group seems to accelerate the reactionary statements multiply.  Some dredge up assertions from over two thousand years ago: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” One of our presumptive candidates for the upcoming U.S. presidential elections has advocated killing the families of known or suspected terrorists, reinstating waterboarding, and going well beyond waterboarding.  That this person, completely ignorant of facts on practically everything plays to emotions rather than logic comes as no surprise. Nor does the support for this person across the country.

I have never adopted the La-La position of All We Need is Love.  The individuals I’ve met over the years who espoused that mantra seemed just as ignorant as the aforementioned candidate, and living carefree lifestyles in complete ignorance of those who would deny them those lifestyles and the people working 24/7 to ensure they could go on strumming their guitars without a sour note.  Turn the other cheek seems like good advice for people who like to have their ass kicked.

I will not go into specific details as confidentiality laws and personal integrity prohibit and/or curb that.  I will say I’ve encountered far more than my fair share of males and females who would kill, some without so much as a blip on their EKG.  The descriptive, Dead Eyes is quite accurate.  Some of these people seemed likely to be bored with the person coming to kill them.

But how to respond?  So often we hear the admonition, If we do what they do, we become them.  There are two fundamental ways of looking at revenge: Personal and Impersonal.

The personal is the one we, as individuals, have been familiar with the longest.  Another child smacks you on the playground, you smack him back.  Even in this early stage there can be valuable lessons.  In the 4th grade a boy punched me.  I punched back, knocking him down against a fence as his nose erupted in blood.  I felt so badly for him I rushed to him and helped him up.  While I was doing that he punched me in the nose and I erupted blood.  Lesson: When your opponent is down, finish him.  At least ensure his will to fight is gone.

If the person who harms you is clearly more powerful, find a way other than playing into his hands.  I’ve done that.  But here we are also offered the opportunity to drift into the impersonal.  Society tells us to seek out an authority figure, or institution, and not “take the law into our own hands.”  That can be a really hard sell.  When my daughter was a young child living with her mother in a condo complex one of the men in the complex exposed himself to her.  She told me of this years later, after she had grown and married.  She also told me of the advice her mother gave her at the time: Do NOT tell your father. He will come here and beat to death every man he finds in the complex.  Her mother could have her bright days.    

There were many fights, and some play, on that 4th grade playground I mentioned earlier.  But most ended quickly.  The ground was hard clay, overlaid with an uneven sprinkling of gravel.  The down in getting knocked down was often more painful than the knock.  One morning a particularly enthusiastic all out brawl developed.  A human coliseum quickly formed around the combatants – we were Roman Catholic, after all.  Soon a pretty, young Nun, her black veils billowing, bore down on the scene.  As the fight progressed unabated we watched for her Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down.  From her place at the Imperator’s spot she yelled, “No kicking in the balls!! No kicking in the balls!!”  To this day I’m sure what her response would have been had I run to her to say Jimmy hit me.

So despite the soporific tones of the moralists, we must admit to at least a reservoir of personal intent, if not a history of action.

Recourse to the impersonal seems more appropriate in more serious cases, even when the victim – or those associated with the victim, might conceivably be capable of direct and personal response.  A former colleague of mine, now deceased, was away from home when his wife incautiously answered a ring at the front door.  She was practically decapitated by a shotgun blast to the throat. There was no evidence of entry, nothing taken, and no “return address” on the act. It should also be said she had no level of employment that would engender such an attack against her personally.  It was either a jumpy amateur hit (in one area where I was stationed such a hit could be had for as little as $5.00 U.S.) or a message to him. But either way, he had no recourse but to work with the “law of the land”, which in the end did no good.   

How does one gather the maelstrom of revenge and hand it to “the authorities”?  When a criminal act is reported the entity claiming jurisdiction assumes the role of the aggrieved.  Remember the last time you were indicted for something?  The paperwork read, The State of _______ versus YOU. Who is the State?  Presumably you have injured the citizenry, who have deferred their authority for revenge to an institution.  Of course, if someone harmed my child this institution would be hard pressed to get one step ahead of me.

My only in-depth adventure into the criminal justice system was when I was selected as an Expert Witness for the Defense in a pornography/obscenity trial.  The Central Florida county where I lived brought charges, after a months long investigation, against a truck stop for selling graphic magazines in a back room. As the county’s only Anthropologist, it was assumed I could interpret the nocturnal shrieks and moans permeating our fair neighborhoods as evidence the behaviors shown in the magazines were within current community standards. I suggested to the defense counsel they might better have selected a serial Peeping Tom as their expert, but I did rise to the occasion, as it were.

I was amazed, and more than a little offended, that the prosecution did not challenge my subject matter knowledge in this area. After three full days and thousands of dollars the trial ended in a Hung Jury – no pun intended.  What interested me most was the process through which each side “struck” potential jurors. If attorneys do not already know intimate details about citizens, it does not take long for them to uncover them.

But still, what about those real crimes?  Years ago a friend’s 9 year old son was abducted on his way to a convenience store.  Several days later his body was found tied to a tree.  Two men had grabbed him and, over the course of those days, repeatedly sodomized him and tied him to the tree for archery practice.  The Medical Examiner testified his death was very protracted and painful.  How does a parent leave this to law enforcement? Sit through a trial?  Accept the verdict of a jury, especially in States that do not have the death penalty?  And, even where the death penalty is enforced, does watching a person “put to sleep” – like a sick dog at a vet’s office, satisfy the indescribable feelings of the parent?

Oh, yes, the hand wringers and the kumbaya crowd intone understanding and forgiveness.  The morally superior but experientially vapid among us pat our hands and chant their hackneyed phrases of  “higher spiritual wisdom”. So who came up with this hierarchy of spiritual development?  Madam Blavatsky’s “Ascended Masters”?  Please find me one example of a moral code not written by man, and please don’t bother with claims of “divine inspiration”.       

Well gosh, isn’t this rhetoric out of character for a person who accepts the referential term “mystic”?  The simple answer is: No.  The explanatory answer is: Mysticism is the awareness of all things. There is no catechism of think this, not that.  There is no inherent or mandated change of behavior; “What did the Buddha do on reaching enlightenment? He went back to washing his bowl.” Mysticism is the awareness of IS. There is no inherent mandate to dream up what could be, or what should be.  And there is certainly no basis for claiming a higher position on some imaginary hierarchy of being.  In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

So if you feel wronged and in need of redress, fine.  Sense it. Examine it. Be aware of it in its fullness.  I happen to think that people who self flagellate over such thoughts and feelings of revenge, who condemn themselves as wrong, immoral, undeveloped, or whatever other pejorative is current are like the woman I knew years ago and of whom I said, “You could mail her a hammer and she would beat herself to death with it.” 

Be the fullness of you and stop trying to be the artificial construct others would make of you.  Realization may mean you deliver a “kick in the balls”, but the return address is you, not some self-righteous other who sanctioned the act or disapproved of the act.  

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27 Comments
  1. The whole thing I don’t get between ‘here’ and the ‘hereafter’ is the ‘Love is all you need’. It must be semantics as the spirits always say. So I’ll have to say that wars, killing and putting to death criminals should be done with love. Shall we say ‘love of country, love of self preservation and love of societal “norms” ‘ should quiet the semantics. The rest is we should have an orderly society with rules and laws to have the most chance for the most people to experience life in their own way for their own lessons. Some of those lessons might best be served cold. Forced exit point, as it would be from our point of view.

  2. Thanks, PM. I sense you agree that eventually we find who we are, and we own it. The lofty rhetoric of others is just that, lofty rhetoric. People agree or disagree as it suits them. But is that honest?

    • I agree that we should agree and/or disagree that the agreement be agreeable and/or disagreeable to all who agree and/or disagree that we should come to an agreement and/or disagreement that is agreeable to all.

      I am a crash test dummy here to insure that life is all that it is cracked up to be. On the human side I disagree with chaos and anarchism.

      • *ensure should be where ‘insure’ is. Although that might not be a bad idea to ‘insure’ someones cracking up 😛

        With the honesty, I’m sure the spirits would say it’s more semantics, one’s truth is theirs and may not be yours. Honestly, this gives me pause to the intellect of a spirit. If ya can’t just spit it out totally factually, pass. As your being an analyst, you know this can be done and the gist given in a short synopsis.

  3. Ray Rivers permalink

    Interesting blog – it seems the truth here is out of grasp but within our reach…. if only. Is it revenge or something else? Perhaps just correcting an error or righting a wrong as you see fit. And it’s only ‘revenge’ if you do it to ‘get even’ – otherwise it’s justice or murder or something else.

    • Thanks, Ray. You raise very pertinent points. Unfortunately, it does seem to be in the eye of the beholder, and the justifications used therein are often pretty dubious. .

  4. My Journey Out of Darkness permalink

    My family originates from Messina, Sicilia, so you can imagine how I was raised on this subject. My mother once told me that if I ever hit first I would be punished; however, if I did not hit second, I would be punished. Revenge is a recurrent theme in my family. I believe in defending oneself but it has cost my family much. When my son took his life due to a government institutions actions, I wanted revenge as I never had before in my life! Being a medium, I have knowledge of my children in Spirit’s wishes and I know how they wish me to handle this. I still have that instinct of self-defense and defense of my family; however, my views have changed somewhat. I feel combating negativity with negativity leads to more negativity. I am not, however, one of those that sits around singing Kum-By-Ya. I think the way we deal with these situations needs to change and the justice system, at least in the in U.S., is useless. I have no desire to carry on my family’s traditions on this subject as it has destroyed us. I guess I am one of those “All You Need Is Love” people but I am also realistic. One day we will get there. Unfortunately, it will take awhile. We need to find a way to change this while still protecting ourselves.

    • Thank you, MJ. Your comments are intensely interesting. Although the English word vendetta comes directly from Latin, its highest manifestations are Sicilian. And, you portrayed it perfectly with your mother’s admonitions to you.

      I feel empathy for you, and indirectly for your son, over his choice. It must leave you with years of searching for what could have been an alternative.

      I’m with you in thinking alternatives to our current processes would be better, But my scales have long ago tipped toward thinking they will not come to be. Marco

      • My Journey Out of Darkness permalink

        I believe they will come to be eventually; however, not in our lifetime.

  5. Gary permalink

    The one old adage I do believe is that “revenge is a dish best served cold”. I have on two occasions in my life been able to carry that out on people who injured me years earlier. It is very satisfying to not only get your justice, but to know that the person in question is completely mystified by it.

    • Thanks, Gary. This raises an interesting issue: Is it satisfying to render revenge when the recipient does not know it comes from you? For example, a head shot from 500 meters is satisfying as a technical exercise, but a face to face gut shot seems much more gratifying. Thoughts?

      • Marco. Somehow I doubt the face to face gut shot would be gratifying for the average person. I have to wonder if said “average person” could even remotely handle the outcome, which is undoubtedly gory beyond what most can imagine. I have wondered what it might be like to be a career sniper/assassin; for me, I would want to be involved in the choice of targets. This is probably quite unrealistic.

        I have recently known people who hold what I view as long-term grudges. I can’t comprehend this. A grudge is akin to a light form of revenge (in my mind). Clean slate…. please. Every moment is a chance for renewal; at the very least – every day is.

      • Wise words, Dana. Most people are so far removed from what put the steak on their table they would be quite squeamish, and probably undone by certain realities.

        Yes, the grudge is a self inflicted wound. “A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal”. Francis Bacon. 1561-1626. “Of Revenge”. 1625

  6. Marco, I feel the need to lighten things up a bit, and sometimes this has admittedly been my motto, “Looking good is the best revenge.” – Ivana Trump

    Sounds shallow, but in some cases, it seems to work.

    • Thanks, Dana. Seems like a variant of Living well is the best revenge.

    • People always think I’m mad. It’s just that I’m blind in one eye and it produces a ‘stare’. I guess the saying “It’s better to be feared than loved” works too 😛

  7. “I don’t get mad, I get even.”

    Fortunately, nothing has ever happened in my life to cause me to feel the need for vengeance. There have, however, been more than a few that I would have liked to kick in the balls.

    • Thanks, Rose. I appreciate the feeling. Some people mistake me for being mad when I’m really only irritated. I rarely get mad, but when I do I enter a different space – and there is no external sign.

      • I think I know that about you; wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of your anger.

        I wear what is known as “resting bitch face”; happy, sad, and angry all look the same. The only external of my anger is that I grow very silent, and sometimes walk away.

      • I love that – “resting bitch face”

  8. Jessica Smith permalink

    It seems the longer I live the less I have to say. I think active spontaneous discussions in person seems to suit me best. Even with that I do enjoy reading and appreciate your blog Marco.

    • Thank you, Jessica. In person would be ideal, but that darned reality gets us every time. Marco

    • I wrote a meme for the Dos Equis guy (the most interesting man) pic.

      “I don’t always say a lot but when I do I don’t always say a lot.”

      Stay thirsty my friends! 😛

      • Sounds – if the word “sounds” applies – pretty ominous. Will definitely make an attempt to keep you talking. Marco

      • I do so love to run my mouth. I love nighttime road rage. The roads should be empty here and I only want to see the police and 18 wheelers. I holler, “Get off my roads!!! It’s 2am! Go home! Get to bed! These are my roads and why I drive at 2am!” 😛 This is what happens 100 miles northeast of Spaghetti Junction, as it should be. I could ramble on about just about anything but prefer to listen most of the time because I like the drama. I had some drama yesterday out of thin air. 2 cars came down the road, made the triangle around my lot and stopped at the 4 way and they got out and proceeded to argue. I thought it was totally random until they left and went down to the new neighbors and started in again. So it was only sort of random. Drama none the less. They knew to keep it ‘sane’ since I was there running a saw here and there. I couldn’t get what they were saying anyway but always fun to watch. Until someone pokes an eye out or something 😛

      • This is fascinating. I’m usually in bed at 2:00am and maybe that’s a good thing. You do have drama in your life. I hope next time – and I’m suspecting there will be a next time – you have something to duck behind when the bullets start flying.

      • Not many shootings out here in the sticks so nothing to worry about. My road rage is just yelling for fun. I do get a bit edgy if I am transporting animals though but I drive slower. Most of the passing cars are on-coming traffic so I wouldn’t be turning around or anything. Road rage never makes it into my dreams so it’s not an important topic. Random drama is nice being it’s not my typical neighborhood drama. I have plenty of stuff here to duck behind if bullets start to fly. I’m usually at the basement door workshop so I can duck inside, up the stairs and come out the front door shooting back if need be. When seconds count the police are just minutes away.

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