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Revenge is never a reason

Good Group Tips

In principle, just because you did something bad to me is never a reason for me to do something bad to you. Doing something for revenge or to get even just makes more bad things happen.

Sometimes we justify harming someone to teach them a lesson. If this is my goal, I should first ask, “What is the very best way for the lesson to be taught? Am I the best teacher? Is this the best method?” Probably not.

Another justification is that harming you will bring me peace. Really? If it is emotional peace that I want, I should first consider all the possible ways to get it, including changing my own attitudes and behaviors. Among all the options, revenge is rarely the most effective path to personal peace.

Practical Tip: Make decisions always in the best interests of the group going forward. Base decisions only on what you think will make the future better, not on what you think will fix the past. Decide to harm only as a last resort, when there are no other ways to achieve the group’s primary interests.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

7 thoughts on “Revenge is never a reason

  1. There is not one answer as each incidence needs to be viewed under its own lens. If you are not physically harming someone it’s okay and depends on the circumstances. I was targeted by a neighbor because I opposed a zoning change and helped defeat an annexation. The person tried to file a stalking charge against me. We lived in the same street and had been to each other’s home. For an entire 2 weeks I had to go the opposite direction and watch neighbors look at me weirdly. The judge tried to convince her to drop the charges and it was quickly dismissed.
    Several years later I posted on her business profile exactly what she did. I felt so much better after that because that caused a lot of anxiety.

  2. Depends on your mindset, learning to control yourself can lead to you controlling your actions. Take the Harlem, Kentucky story in the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, for example. The two families raged war against each other forgoing rhyme and reason. The only thing they thought to do was kill each other and forget about the lives of who got in the way. In my eyes a more proper vendetta plan would be to meticulously weave past your obstacles and target only your prime objective, the one responsible for their actions.

    1. Sanctimonious rubbish. I am a peaceful man and I never intend harm to anyone. However, if someone harms me deliberately for their own selfish reasons, then a repost is necessary. The argument that seeking revenge will only make matters worse can be a truism, but if in balancing the books so to speak results in that same person who did you harm in the first place, decides to escalate the matter, then crush them, turn them into quivering wrecks so that they will never seek to harm anyone ever again.

  3. I really enjoyed this tip, probably because it goes against every cell in the human body!

    A police officer once told me, “You don’t have to get revenge. You just have to be patient. The tide will always change and the person you are angry with will encounter serious challenges soon enough…so just sit back and watch – you don’t have to do a thing!”

    It was a good way of saying, “Let it go. Focus your life on more positive things.”

    Once again, thanks for these tips. They spark good discussion.

  4. Craig, I agree with you on this point, but you have ignored one of the primary reasons given for revenge, that being the anticipated deterrence that the threat of revenge is intended to create.

    Defensive policy: the policy of discouraging enemy attack by maintaining sufficient military force to retaliate deterrence-

    I’m not a great believer in deterrence, but you need to recognize this as a reason for premeditated revenge.

  5. When I first received your e-mail over the weekend, I was thrilled. I thought “He’s right! I DID overlook that.” I love it when people give feedback on the Tips and offer insights I hadn’t thought of. Your e-mail really challenged me. I simply had not thought of the “deterrence angle,” and of course, deterrence is a justifiable thing to do!

    Then I went to the dictionary and looked up “revenge” (which I should have done before writing about it) and found nothing about deterrence for the future – rather it’s all about gaining satisfaction regarding the past.

    So I am now concluding that while deterrence against future harmful acts IS sometimes an appropriate reason for inflicting harm, revenge still isn’t because, by definition, the motivation for revenge is not deterrence – it’s “getting even.” I suppose you might argue that “getting even” deters future bad actions but there’s nothing in the definition about that motivation.

    If I had thought about all this before writing the Tip I might have discussed the notion of deterrence AND the issue of motive. If your harmful act is motivated by trying to “fix the past,” it’s not a justifiable reason. If your harmful act is motivated by deterring worse harmful acts in the future, that may well be a justifiable reason.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write me a note about this and push my thinking. I have learned some new things. Much appreciated.

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