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Katie James
Upper Sixth
Worcester House

Revenge is a good thing?

Revenge is a good thing?

‘Revenge is sweet’, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’. ‘Don’t get mad … get even’. I’d like to pose the question ‘is revenge a good thing?’ From these opening remarks you may be thinking that the answer is yes, revenge is occasionally justified, and I’d have to agree … sometimes, revenge is healthy. I live with my Mum, Dad and my younger brother, and quite honestly, all four of us have enjoyed that feeling of revenge within the last few months.

Whether that is my brother, beating the rival rugby team on the sports field, or my Dad, lowering his handicap on the golf course to just that little bit lower than his friends. I, on the other hand, got my own back on my sports teacher last year in a crucial hockey match. I’m the first to admit, that when it comes to hockey, I’m worse than useless, and I was just as shocked as Mrs Jones, when I scored the winning goal of the match with seconds left to play. (It was a fluke!) But that served her right for constantly telling me I was merely on the team to make up the numbers! And as for my Mum, well she’s been dieting with ‘slimming world’ since June and when she won ‘slimmer of the week’ last month — she was over the moon. She wanted serious revenge on me though; when I told all her friends that she celebrated, by eating a cream cake — low fat of course! I was on washing up duty for the next fortnight!

And so there are a few examples, of when revenge can be healthy in our day to day lives. Here, revenge helps to generate team spirit and more importantly, no harm is intented. But on a more serious note, I strongly believe that when the word revenge is interpreted strictly, it is impossible to support it. Revenge — the word alone just makes you want to clench your fists. It has a sinister, cold and hard connotation. The Oxford dictionary’s definition states that, ‘revenge is something harmful done, in return for an injury or wrong’. That is key: where harm is intentional, revenge cannot be condoned, cannot be justified and therefore cannot be a good thing.

Let’s firstly look at why one seeks revenge. In my opinion, revenge is purely powered by emotion. The heart overrides the head and revenge is the ultimate answer. ‘Revenge is best served cold’ and this is true for everything. We mustn’t make hasty decisions, thinking before we speak. Let’s take road rage for example. We’ve all been there haven’t we? The red Clio pulls out straight in front of the navy Toyota. The Clio is in the wrong, and shyly waves, mouthing an embarrassing ‘sorry’ in the mirror. The Toyota driver is furious, and hell-bent on getting his own back. Soon an innocent situation turns nasty. What is the problem here … yes, revenge! Had the Toyota driver accepted the apology and been mature, overlooking the mistake, all would have been well. What happened to ‘forgive and forget’, that’s what I want to know! Two wrongs don’t make a right, and in this situation surely it is sensible just to turn the other cheek.

However I’m not so naïve as to think that revenge is only used in such harmless circumstances. Recent newspaper reports show us that many take the law into their own hands. Gangs will take revenge on each other for actions as bad as stabbing. But, if someone stabs you, should you stab them back? The answer is no! I advocate that if one does something illegal, they cannot take the law into their own hands and dish out the punishment; that is the job of thePolice! The law not only serves to punish the wrong, but it also protects the innocent.

Others seek mental revenge. Physical revenge is nothing — wounds will heal. If you kill someone, that person will feel nothing. But mental revenge is something else — a person will live their whole life being hurt and haunted. Both the person seeking revenge and the person being avenged are affected. There’s an old Chinese saying which states, ‘if you seek out on revenge, you must first dig two graves’.

Therefore, though the lighter sense of revenge is healthy and part of our day to day lives, the true meaning is negative, it causes jealousy and is hugely detrimental. As Gandhi said … ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’.

26 November 2010

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