The antedote to revenge


It seems fashionable for Winnipeg bloggers to justify revenge, payback for wrongs committed in the immediate past. Look at Endless Spin or Jim Cotton for two of many examples. In Margaret Atwood’s incredile Massey Lectures from 2008, Payback, we can read that “there are two antidotes to the endless chain reaction of revenge and counter-revenge”: first, “through courts of law”; but “the other antedote is more radical”…

“It is told of Nelson Mandela that, after much persecution, and when he was finally freed from the prison where he’d been put by the Apartheid government in South Africa, he said to himself that he had to forgive all those who had wronged him by the time he reached the prison gates or he would never be free […] because he’s be bound to them by the chains of vengence.”

“In other words, the antidote to revenge is not justice but forgiveness. How many times must you forgive? someone once asked Jesus of Nazareth. Seventy time seven, or as many times as it takes, was the answer.”

It angers me to no end that people sitting comfortably on the other side of the Earth would try to point to injust actions from the immediate past to justify further injustices, as if the scales of justice could ever be balanced through future killing. Each side, in justifying their attacks, provides justification for the attacks of the other side thanks to the Principle of Universality. Either both sides are justified in using violence, or neither. I vote for neither.


8 responses to “The antedote to revenge

  1. See the Hack for more discussion of Israel/Palestine.

  2. Unfortunately, as we discussed on New Years, most people are very small minded and will follow what they are told by the strong, regardless of how insane it is. Hamas’ inability to forgive gives Israel the excuse they need to invade. Israel’s inability to concede some land in the name of peace also impedes the process. This process will continue as long as Israel hold the power in the region and Hamas remains stubborn.

  3. This process will continue long after our era. Welcome to the never-ending nightmare.

  4. I like this post for a number of reasons, but mainly because it brings up a very important subject that is much broader than the present conflict it alludes to.

    I think if more people & countries operated on a principle of forgiveness, we’d live in a much better place. Unfortunately, the act of forgiving is difficult and many people confuse it with forgetting and permitting. Forgiving does not involve forgetting; one can forgive while still remembering past wrongs that were committed. In fact, it’s probably wise to remember these, lest history repeat itself. Forgiving is also not permitting. That is, just because you forgive someone, it does not mean you condone past transgressions.

    To me, forgiveness is the first step on the path to reconciliation. Without it the status quo will prevail. Sadly, mere moments into 2009 — incidentally the UN has declared 2009 the International Year of Reconciliation — it seems that we’ll be stuck with the status quo for the foreseeable future.

  5. It really is too bad that this battle isn’t even close to being as bad as some of the conflicts in other areas. I listed off some of the conflicts I know off of the top of my head.

  6. It is sad but it is true. I agree that forgiveness is the only way out of this conflict, but it also is nearly unresolvable. Even if forgiveness takes place they would still need to decide how to give the same area of land to two nations.

  7. And let’s not forget about the pirates. What kind of fucked up ship has to happen for plunder to be renewed on the seven seas!

  8. Thanks for the article! Just browsing around online I get into some cool stuff. Anyways, back to school work…

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