“Will Your Desire For Revenge Really Satisfy You?” Momentarily maybe.
Want to see the emotion instantly rise in someone? Ask them, “What would you do if someone harmed one of your loved ones?” The answer I receive about 95% of the time is something like, “I would kill the person!” And often, they will ask me, “Wouldn’t you?”
My reply is, “No, I would not! Well, I hope I would not!” Almost instantly, I receive looks of wonderment and disbelief. The comments typically follow: “How could you not?” or “What is wrong with you?” I sometimes get looked at as less than caring or lacking empathy for what my loved one has faced.
This ALWAYS opens the door to a fascinating discussion because since becoming a grandpa over six years ago and having three amazing grandchildren, I think much more about topics like this than when I was a young father.
Let me start by saying I have no way of knowing one way or another what I would do, but I hope I would not kill them or cause too serious harm. Of course, I would have a deep desire to harm them if I got hold of them, but I have spent many hours thinking of the consequences of taking such a dramatic action and who it ultimately hurts.
It is critical to think of a scenario like this when you are calm, not at the moment because I am confident your action would be swift and violent if given a chance. Of course, this does not address someone who might calculate their revenge which may be a topic for a different blog post.
Many of you might think it will give you some level of satisfaction to inflict pain or worse on them. But will it? Someone has harmed your loved one; you can’t take that back by harming the perpetrator. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but some may feel some small sense of exacting satisfaction revenge, but it will be fleeting and not change the past. And who might it ultimately harm the most? At that point, seeking help for the victim is paramount because one’s momentary reaction to revenge will add to the mountain of harm already done to your loved one.
I would feel much better if their harm came from their time, hopefully spent in prison for their actions by someone else, as it would not affect what I discuss in the next paragraph.
What conclusions have I come to? I have thought about it for many years, but last year when I wrote my book on Conflict Resolution, it struck me most, mainly when I would watch and play with my grandkids. I thought if I was to react violently to anyone who harmed a loved one, odds are it would not be calculated but rather emotional, which rarely ends well. And while they may deserve it and more, my loved ones, like my grandchildren, are my priority above anyone or anything else.
In that instance, a momentary lapse of reason or judgment will bring me in front of a judge. And while a jury, judge or anyone might empathize with my actions, I am not comfortable enough with the justice system to keep me from paying the price. So where would that land me? In jail, most likely, and if I am in prison, who have I hurt? I have hurt those I want to protect and be with, those I want to watch grow up and play with, help guide, or spend quiet time with.
If I am in prison, I have taken all that away because I desired revenge above that.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and have come to these conclusions. Still, again I must be honest in saying I can’t know how I would react, but spending this much time reflecting on it has been valuable as depressing a topic as it is even to be curious about.
People who have taken revenge often say they would do it again in a heartbeat. I understand, but we must look beyond that much further to who it harms the most.
Chris Roberts, SAFE Violence Prevention & Self Defence