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Revenge is a Dish Best Not Served


We all know the phrase that "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Yet, few of us really seek personal revenge or vengeance for major wrongdoings against us. Why is that?

First, people intuitively know that seeking revenge may bring some satisfaction that a wrongdoer has been punished, yet revenge does not make anyone feel better. In fact, the opposite is true. People feel as if they have been soiled and saddened that they morally lowered themselves into seeking retribution. Often, people who were angered enough to attain retribution have regrets against their own actions for the rest of their lives.


Second, revenge is part of the darker half of the human spirit that mostly causes more trouble. What retaliation would some receive after attaining revenge? For instance, if Person A does something dishonest (such as stealing a chicken) to Person B, then Person B would most likely want revenge from Person A by doing something even more wrong (such as stealing a more valuable goat). Consequently, Person A would feel obligated to seek justice Person B, and so on and so on. This is why family feuds are perpetually never resolved. Therefore, knowing that revenge is never a true conclusion to a dispute also limits people from seeking revenge.

Third, in civilized society we have courts of law that mediate major disputes. Typically, an unaffiliated person, such as a judge or arbitrator who is personally uninvolved in the dispute, would listen to all sides of a disagreement and then decide reasonable reparations for people who have been wronged if any wrongdoings were found. Therefore in modern civilized society, governments provide a means for mediations against disputes as a fair and unbiased alternative to vendettas and revenge so that society can remain civilized. This also brings a definitive conclusion to disputes to prevent or reduce any future acts of vengeance.

Even though most people believe in "an eye for an eye" meaning an equivalent punishment for any wrongdoing, few people personally seek and attain revenge for serious crimes. This is because personally retribution does not have any moral high ground and does not make people feel any better, especially when a more civilized and accessible judicial system exists to help resolve conflicts.

by Phil for Humanity
on 20070910

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