There is a fine line between revenge and defense.
When you are beaten and you know that it is the only beating you will get from that person, it is time to decide if you want revenge or you should let go. You may want to lick your wounds and deliberate about what triggered the beating.
You may want to change your lifestyle, your love, and your convictions in order to avoid another beating.
You might also want to change you. Or you may want revenge and hurt that person as much as he or she had hurt you.
When you are beaten and you know for a fact, judging from previous beatings, that that person is going to continue to beat you, you may want to lick your wounds and deliberate about what triggered the beating. You may want to change your lifestyle, your love, and your convictions in order to delay the next beating.
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You may even want to change you. But if you decide that you have had enough and strike back at the aggressor in order to permanently stop getting beaten again, that is not revenge.
That is called defense.
An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.
In the old days (and today), if someone is to blind you in one eye or to punch a tooth out of you, wouldn't it be nice to demand a death sentence on the aggressor?
Or some may think so. I am sure you know that the common quotation came from the Old Testament.
What is less known is that the statements were made to magistrates as a suggestion to act with restraint.
Don't punish a person for more than the injury. It is a limit placed on judgment. It was not intended as a commandment and there is always room for mercy. In the New Testament, the same quotation was repeated.
But this time, the instructions were made to individuals - you cannot demand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth on your own will.
You are not the magistrate. In that regard, the statements were never intended as an excuse for an individual to take revenge on his or her own accord.
In case you are still clueless about the above pontifications, it has to do with what happened after the Sept. 11 attack on the free world - where people are free to think thoughts and live lives, even in the manner that you may not agree with.
Koon Meng Chua
UNM civil engineering professor