Blinded by an eye-for-an-eye


I’ve been thinking about Hollywood’s version of revenge in recent weeks. When I was growing up you had the classic version where Charles Bronson in the 1974 movie Death Wish plays a man who after seeing his wife murdered and is daughter assaulted in a home invasion goes on a vigilante killing spree seeking out revenge on violent criminals.

In more modern times, you have others: pretty much any Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie. TV reality shows, including Survivor, the Apprentice, the Bachelor, Keeping up with the Kardashians, too get in the act. They all play up the idea of getting one over on the other guy.

In Hollywood’s view, revenge comes quick, wrapped up tightly in a hour or two-hour block, and is oh so sweet.

In real life, however, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. It’s ugly, it’s mean, and frankly not worth it.

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Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.

An eye for an eye!

On a smaller scale, it’s like the car that cuts you off on the highway, nearly causing a five-car chain reaction accident. You curse and stew about the near-accident. Do they understand what they almost caused? Do they realize what they did?

You honk your horn and immediately think of ways to get revenge. You throw out most of your ideas because you realize that hitting them broadside, while palatable, is probably not the best way to end a highway argument.

You decide to go with a safer solution. You’ll give the @#$%!& driver the evil eye when you pass, maybe even a special one-finger salute. You play out the conversation you would have with them if you were really able to give them a piece of your mind. “I’d show them,” you think to yourself.

Finally you get your chance to pass the offending driver, you get your chance for a little commuter revenge. You whiz by and sure enough you recognize too late that it’s your kid’s former first grade teacher, the one you loved for her patience and understanding, or a little old lady who instantly reminds you of your own grandmother, or as my luck would one time have it: a priest in a clerical collar.

Gulp. “Yea, hello God, it’s me, Brian, I’ve done it again. Help.”

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If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

Finding the best revenge

I’m not very good at it, but I’ve been working on trying to forgiving more and forgetting about others faults. I have my moments where I’m doing really well. And then I spit out song-and-verse on how the other guy has wronged me.

I would think that by now I would have this turning the other cheek thing down cold.

Early in my career I had a volunteer gig where I helped an organization with some communications work, creating press releases and op-ed pieces, helping them with advertisements, etc., etc. I would contribute a few hours a week to help the organization better promote itself. I’m not sure why but it became very clear to me that the supervisor hated me. Or so I thought, and on top of that, I thought she should be more grateful for the long hours I was putting into the effort.

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I’m not sure if it was a case of what was said and unsaid or what, but I started to get more and more upset that I wasn’t getting my just rewards. My ego was getting in the way, when I really should have shut my mouth and just went about my business. In any event, I fumed and fumed until the pot boiled over.

I decided that I could do better things with my time and gave up my volunteer role. I still held a grudge against the supervisor. At least in my head, I figured she ruined the experience for me.

Sure enough I ran into a couple coworkers a few months later. We commiserated for a few moments until one of them asked why I left when the supervisor loved me so much and was preparing me for a fulltime job.

Hello, really, I guess I missed that one.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.  –Matthew 5:38-48.

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