We are now into new territory as far as The R’s of Life is concerned, as I only got as far as Retail Therapy in 2017. However, there are plenty more R’s of Life to contemplate and explore and one of them is Revenge.
Revenge is the act of getting your own back for an action that has caused damage (word or deed) to you by another or others.
For as long as there has been a Bible (and other religious texts), five words have been used by governments and individuals to justify taking action against other nations and on a personal level, leading to some pretty appalling atrocities and actions.
“An Eye for An Eye”
There are a number of references to this is the Old Testament and here are just two which seem to have been plagiarised by humans to suit their own ends for centuries….
Exodus 21:22-25 “Suppose two men are fighting and hit a pregnant woman, causing the baby to come out. If there is no further injury, the man who caused the accident must pay money—whatever amount the woman’s husband says and the court allows. But if there is further injury, then the punishment that must be paid is life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.”
Leviticus 24:19-22 And whoever causes an injury to a neighbor must receive the same kind of injury in return: Broken bone for broken bone, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Anyone who injures another person must be injured in the same way in return. Whoever kills another person’s animal must give that person another animal to take its place. But whoever kills another person must be put to death
“Turn the other Cheek”
However in both the Old and the New Testament… including in Leviticus, there are other admonishments to “Turn the other Cheek”. Which does make ancient teachings very confusing.
Matthew 5.39 – “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”
In our modern world we have adopted another saying that gives the act of vengeance an added incentive...“Revenge is sweet” and if you do not get immediate satisfaction and you want to keep the fire for retribution burning for a very long time: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”
First some of the other words that we use to indicate the act of getting even….
Retribution, Payback, retaliation, revenge and reprisal.
Governments love the word “reprisal” and use it to justify crossing borders, issuing sanctions, bombing a city or expelling diplomats. There are levels and they escalate according to the reprisals from the other side! This is one of the reasons for Two World Wars, when diplomacy failed to counteract acts of revenge by individuals or particular countries. The fact that those conducting the diplomatic route, are individuals who prefer the ‘reprisal’ course of action does not help.
Revenge as individuals.
We as individuals have adopted the other words to justify our own actions, and I am being honest when I admit that there have been occasions when I would have loved to get my own back on an individual or organisation that I have been the target of. Including my recent treatment by Facebook
I don’t tend to take things lying down and whilst I applaud those who ‘turn the other cheek’ and walk away from events that have damaged them, I have discovered that if you do that, those people and organisations keep on doing to others without sanction. However, you have to choose your battles and some are just not worth the time and effort vs. the outcome.
I certainly do not condone violence to get my own back although I must admit to a sneaky love of John Wick and the Equalizer films…..
As an individual that can be a challenge to take on major corporations or even governments who have little regard for the efforts of one person to bring them to heel. Even with social media to air your grievances, it is merely a flea bite on the hide of an elephant. Some people have brought cases against major corporations which have been successful, but cases often taken years and suck up life savings if they don’t win, and the only people who seem to end up in the money are the lawyers. The only possibly successful legal form of revenge, is a class action suit, where a large number of other people join together and make enough noise. That too can take years and there is no guarantee of a positive outcome.
Revenge and retribution take many forms in our modern world, especially in the press and on social media.
One of the most insidious and life-changing forms of retribution is trial and judgement, not by your peers, but by the general public, aided and abetted by established and credible media outlets whose rush to publish a scoop is terrifying if you are on the wrong end of it.
It is mass revenge on steroids. Revenge on people who have risen high in our societies and have allegations made against them and who despite wealth and power are also incredibly vulnerable.
I am all for justice for those who have been found guilty of a crime in a court of law, but many have been found guilty in the court of public opinion long before they come to trial; when in fact they are innocent.
In recent years, with the outing of so many guilty child molesters for their heinous misuse of their power, some have been caught up in the fever to name and shame, and were in fact found to be completely blameless. But, not before their private lives were dissected and trumpeted across every media outlet possible.
A case in point, is of long time respected politician, Lord Brittan, who was accused of multiple sexual assaults in the days following his death, and also D- Day Veteran and former head of the Army, Lord Brammall. Both were accused by a man named as ‘Nick’ who made claims about a high profile ring of molesters. There was a £2.5 million investigation by the police that dragged the names of both these high profile men through the press and mud. At the end of the investigations no charges were brought against any of the accused.
It was discovered that ‘Nick’ was a fantasist and he ended up in court being charged with perverting the course of justice and fraud. The Daily Telegraph ironically reported at the time of his court appearance, that his true identity could not be revealed because of legal reasons. This restriction was lifted in December 2018 and he was committed for trial in February of this year on 12 counts pertaining to those he publicly accused.
It is alleged that ‘nick’ suffered from childhood abuse and that is a tragedy it itself, however his attempt to take revenge on those who were not implicated, had a wide-reaching and devastating impact.
Lady Brittan and Lord Brammall received a paltry £100,000 in compensation that could never take back the anguish, loss of reputation and embarrassment caused. Their names will be forever tainted and that will have a direct impact on their families too.
A similar case to this is that of singer Sir Cliff Richard, who talked about how ‘tarnished’ he felt after 22 months of being falsely accused of assault, and he ended up successfully suing the BBC for their broadcasting of a police raid on his home to the public. BBC News.
Further awards may be made when the loss from cancelled performances and other revenues are identified.The Guardian.
It is also a disturbing fact, that because all the major media outlets carried the allegations and named those being accused, these men were considered ‘guilty’ by millions of people, who were fed the salacious elements of the case, without any form of defensive narrative. It would be many months and sometimes years before those same media outlets would carry the news of their exoneration. Too late for some who died without having their names cleared.
Revenge: Who do they think they are?
One of the traits of humans that I always find unacceptable, is the desire to tear down those who have reached a pinnacle in life that they have no chance of achieving themselves. There is a perverse delight in seeing successful men and women denigrated in the press and social media. It is a form of mass revenge on the successful.
A recent case of this is the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. An actress who I happened to have enjoyed in the show ‘Suits’, and who quite frankly is a beautiful, successful, wealthy woman in her own right. It is clear that Prince Harry adores her and is very happy, with both of them looking forward to their first baby later this month.
On social media.
Those who consider their own lives lacking in some way, have tried to extract their revenge at what they consider an upstart assuming a position she is not entitled to, by trolling the Duchess of Sussex on social media. You would be forgiven for thinking that it was some ignorant oik, with nothing better to do than post nasty comments about someone they thought was acting above themselves.. But no…..in fact the five most vitriolic of the trolls were unmasked as middle-aged housewives, who thought they had the right to be nasty from the safety of their living rooms. Those who were exposed as the main instigators of this hate campaign were from not just the UK but Canada and America too. And whilst they were aiming their vitriol at the Duchess of Sussex they also attacked the Duchess of Cambridge too.
In the press
From the beginning of the relationship between Prince Harry and his wife, the press have delighted in sharing the most intimate details of the family dynamics involved. They have deliberately posted articles from members of Meghan Markle’s family who certainly were not shy in sharing their disdain for her, and also making the most of their 15 minutes in the limelight. Quite frankly my heart went out to this princess in waiting, who should have been excitedly planning her fairy tale wedding, but instead was having to remain quiet so as not to fan the flames of jealousy and revenge emanating from her step-brothers and sisters. She was clearly advised to make ‘no comment’ and I would have found that incredibly difficult.
It is one thing to achieve your dream and have strangers try to bring you down, but when your family is out for revenge too, it must be devastating.
The Duchess of Sussex is wealthy in her own right, and is married to a rich prince, and if she wants to pay for a lavish baby shower, and be flown as a guest on a private plane, then good for her. And yet, the press has been posting stories on this and other ‘extravagances’ of the royal couple and how people in her inner circle, and in the royal entourage find her pushy! I think that says more about the people in her inner circle and the royal entourage than the Duchess of Sussex. There is no doubt she is different and a breath of fresh air. I would imagine that those who have been accustomed to a more rigid public profile for their employers must be quaking. What I do see is that this young couple are determined to also be very much advocates for change, diversity and equality and are a much needed addition to our royal family.
The palace has employed someone to monitor social media and they will be clamping down heavily on those who troll members of the royal family, including reporting them to the police.
Thankfully judging by the reaction of the crowds that gather in their thousands whenever the younger generations of the royal family are out in public, there are far more fans and well-wishers than the press would like us to believe.
As I have said on a few occasions to detractors of both the new Duchesses… if Prince William or Harry had knocked on your door and asked for the hand of your daughter, would you refuse them?
If I am being honest, I do have regrets that I did not manage to achieve some form of closure over two particular events in my life, but at the time I had no recourse but to walk away. I had neither the strength of the resources to get even. I understand how hard it is to leave some events in the past and ‘get on with your life’. But, I also know that if I had pursued a more focused course of revenge, it would have done me more harm than I probably would have been able to inflict on the other people involved.
I have learnt a few things along the way about revenge.
- That it is important to remember your own responsibility for the situation and whilst this does not mean you deserved to be treated badly you do need to consider your actions. Did you walk into a relationship, job, deal or experience having done your research? Did you think at the time… this sounds too good to be true? Should I take advice on the matter? Can I talk to someone who might have experience of this before? Did I listen to those who knew better? Did I see the writing on the wall and still stay? Could I have asked for help?
- I do know that from my own experience and of others that I have communicated with, that violence should never be tolerated and if there is an opportunity to bring someone to justice without bringing more harm to yourself, then you need to find the right people to help you achieve that. Domestic Violence support
- Most of those, whose behaviour leads us down the path of revenge, are narcissists. Whether it is to do with money, relationships, work or family. If they have treated you badly, they have likely done it before and will do it again. Because, no matter what you say or do to them, they see themselves as always in the right and couldn’t care less. What they do not like, is people walking away and treating them as if they are nothing. Sometimes retreat is the most effective form of retribution.
- It is a pointless exercise seeking revenge on others, including strangers for your own shortcomings, just because they are beautiful, have lots of money, buy fabulous clothes, travel the world, marry princes or George Clooney. It doesn’t make any difference how much you might try to bring them down in person by bullying, on social media, or within your own circle of family and friends, if you don’t first take a good look at your own life, and how you might make positive changes to improve your circumstances. It is not this person’s fault for who you are or where you are in life. You need to take responsibility for that.
- Sometimes life will do the job of getting even with someone who has made your life miserable in some way. All you can hope is that when they do get their just desserts they have not ruined too many lives in the meantime. There is nothing like going back to the class reunion happy and successful and finding that the bully who made your life miserable is now desperate to be your friend!
- You have one life and spending precious time on trying to get revenge is time lost. It can also be incredibly stressful, health threatening and become obsessive. The best revenge is to be happy and surrounded by people who think you are amazing at whatever you have chosen to do and have your back. Don’t give people who have created such negativity that power.
- As a writer my experiences have provided great content for my fiction and non-fiction, and whilst I may not have done a John Wick on those who deserved it… some of my characters have!!
I will leave you with this two quotes which make a lot of sense to me.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
Living well is the best revenge. —George Herbert
This is clearly just my opinion and there are many other areas of revenge and retribution that I have not touched on. Your feedback is always welcomed.. thanks Sally.
You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/