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Seeking Wisdom, Day 20 – Sweet Revenge?

March 4, 2016

(Proverbs 20: 22) “Don’t say,’I will get even for this wrong.’ Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.” This proverb is echoed in a more direct way as if issued from the mouth of God, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.” Two “wrongs” never make a “right” .

Retribution and retaliation have made messes of many lives, and even civilizations. We cannot apply acts of getting even without doing harm to ourselves, even when we just want justice or fairness. Wrongs cannot be righted. They are still wrong.

Solomon continues, “The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive”. Motives for revenge are arrogance and pride. Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an English philosopher, writing in an essay, Of Revenge, claimed, “The first wrong, it doth but offend the law, but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy. But in passing it (the injury) over, he is superior. For it is a Prince’s part to pardon.” We are acting like a prince when we forgive. We are taking the moral high road.

In the 16th century. William Shakespeare (1561-1626) wrote many successful plays, some, studied today, concerning  revenge. In Hamlet,  Act 1, Scene l, a ghost resembling his murdered father tells Hamlet that his father cannot rest until Hamlet revenges “his foul and most unnatural murder.” Hamlet had his reasons, for his Uncle had killed his father to obtain the throne, and married Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude. Hamlet has a natural aversion, a reticence, for revenge, and his inability to proceed directly causes the deaths of his friends, his girlfriend Ophelia, and his mother. The three revenge plots in the story cause many complications, leading to the belief there is no revenge  so complete as forgiveness. As a teenager first reading this story, the theme went right over my head. Perhaps one needs more years to appreciate the destructiveness of revenge.

Our Lady Wisdom says, “One takes the moral high road when he forgives. We can’t get even, but we can transcend. Revenge is not sweet; it is a bitter and poisonous drink.” Taste not, and live happily.

 

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