Malaysiakini Letter

Choose another path – not revenge

Azizi Ahmad
Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | I wonder whether it is happening in our beloved country. But I guess anyone in the scene will surely feel the real impact of it. Whether it’s revenge or vengeance, the statement seems political.

Revenge seems to be one of the deepest instincts we have. Who hasn't said, "I hope he gets his," or wished that karma would strike sooner rather than later?

Dirty Harry's "Go ahead, make my day" resonates across generations. Out of control revenge, attacks and counter-attacks can be blinding and destroy the lives of all involved. But our instincts and emotions usually serve a purpose.

Researchers and theorists believe that revenge is a form of establishing justice and that the threat of revenge may serve as a form of protection, a kind of enforcement of social cooperation.

Imagine that your neighbour hosts large, overnight parties and his guests continually park so that you can't get out of your own driveway.

If you believe that your neighbour is a rational person who won't retaliate, you may be tempted to key the guests' cars or smear them with eggs. If you think your neighbour would "come after you", then you are less likely to act on your anger.

Maybe the purpose of revenge is to prevent certain hostile actions or the threat of revenge ensures that people do not hurt you in the future. But sometimes, people act revengeful when no good can come out of their actions other than to inflict suffering on others.

People who have been hurt or betrayed seem to believe without any doubt that if the other party suffers, then they will feel better - their emotional pain will lessen. Is this true?

The passion for revenge is strong and sometimes almost overwhelming. But our intuitive logic about revenge is often twisted, conflicted, parochial, and dangerous.

Revenge is a primitive, destructive, and violent response to anger, injury, or humiliation. It is a misguided attempt to transform shame into pride.

Many governments, religions, traditions, and cultures provide guidance on when revenge may and may not be sought.

Unfortunately, this guidance is often unsatisfactory because it excludes groups of people, generally leads to escalation, is unevenly applied and typically, leads to prolonged and escalated violence.

Choose another path.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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