personalNo Revenge

The English language is a funny thing, especially when it comes to connotations. Take, for example, the word "revenge".

Revenge is a silly, primitive, selfish, brutish concept. We see it in children and we are disgusted, as though we had caught this miniature version of ourselves playing in excrement. We teach them that revenge is bad, that they shouldn't resort to violent retaliation.

And yet... "vengeance"... or, better yet, "avenge". It's essentially the same word, but it carries a completely different connotation. It sounds noble, it sounds right. You have a duty to avenge your fallen comrades.

"Revenge" is the motivation for the villain in the sequel to a Disney movie. "Vengeance" is the motivation for the noble knight who swears to honour the memory of his beloved. There is even a team of comic book vigilantes called the "Avengers", and they are considered superheroes.


It's all the same concept, all the same root word, all the same infantile reaction to perceived injury. Whether you're turning the prince into a toad because the king banished you, or swearing to kill the eleven-fingered man who murdered your father, it all comes from that instinctive need to "get even".

Vengeance is at the core of many of the world's most enduring and moronic conflicts. Inevitably, the feud extends in all directions, leaving the initial seed argument far behind. Vengeance, when taken seriously, never makes things even. It creates a perpetual spiral. We as a species don't know our own strength.

Perhaps you remember, a while back, some protestor of the Iraq war was on some American radio program, and it caused a stir. The protestor had lost his father in the attack of September 11th, and was desperately trying to convince the host that, no, the dead man would not be pleased that his death was being used as justification for a war. It devolved into a on-air shouting match.

So, just so there is no confusion, I have made it clear to my friends and family... and now, to all of you...

Regardless of how painful or unfair my death may be, you are not to seek revenge on my behalf.

By all means, take reasonable steps to prevent the guilty party from killing again, and hold them accountable for whatever laws they have broken, but do not feel any special obligation to make them suffer as I have suffered, or die as I have died.

I encourage you to talk to your loved ones about not avenging your death, and put it in writing. True, the odds that any of us will be victims of a homicide are slim, but it can't hurt to be candid. Together, we can help to decelerate the cycle of violence that defaces human history.

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