- Overrated Vengeance
- April 15th, 2016
Have you ever known anyone (including yourself) that has wished for a wrongdoer to get what was coming to him/her? It is understandable and perhaps natural to feel this way. However, when one gives enough thought, one can see that vindictively wishing punishment, harm, misfortune, or ill-will on a criminal or troublemaker is in fact malicious, faithless, lazy, and indicative of personal weakness.
Everyone has the potential to repent, reform, and improve in judgment, character, and ethics -- this is why killing even a criminal is illegal. If someone were to commit a crime or otherwise unethical act, wronging at least one person in some way or another, but were to then realize her/his wrong and subsequently undergo a change of heart, is there really any point in punishing such a person now that s/he has learned her/his lesson? After all, punishment was originally intended to influence behavior -- introducing an unpleasant stimulus when an undesirable behavior is exhibited in order to build an association of an undesirable outcome (the stimulus) with the behavior, thereby discouraging the subject from exhibiting the behavior further. Punishment is meant to teach a lesson -- if the punished fails to learn and realize the error of her/his ways, then the punishment fails to accomplish its intention, and is serves nothing more than treating the subject meanly at this point. If a despicable criminal were to experience amnesia, forgetting all her/his evil desires, the amnesiac criminal would effectively become a virtually blank slate, and could possibly be molded into a better person (until her/his memories return). What if there were a way to permanently erase the memories of all criminals? All the bad people in the world could be taught to be good people!
Have you ever considered this: why wish wrongdoers would get what they deserve when you can wish they change for the better without consequence? By wishing ill will towards wrongdoers instead of wishing them to repent, we show that we have no faith in their ability to learn from their mistakes and improve, that we are too lazy to exert the effort to change our naturally vindictive mindset into one of good will and help wrongdoers repent, and that we are too weak to deal with the damage that has been dealt to us. Yes, it is easy to do this -- I am not immune to it, and have been quite guilty of it; I don't even blame anyone who does it -- but it is in all honesty malicious. Instead of wishing for a jerk to die, why not wish her/him to be a better person? Both wishes entail the cessation of the jerk's unethical actions, but one is without destructive, derogatory malice. What if all negative, evil, derogatory thoughts feed the evil that is present in this world like in Gene Luan Yang's "Animals Crackers" or Kyousuke's Motomi's "QQ Sweeper"? Perhaps, learning not to hold malice or ill will towards anyone or anything -- even those who have wronged us -- is the key to purity of heart... Instead of grudging against someone, or responding to a wrongdoer with hostility, perhaps forgiveness, a prayer or wish for reformation, and a kind, compassionate response would do more good -- have more faith in people to learn from their mistakes ;)