Monday, May 28, 2007


"I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." (The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare)

If you have in your hands the power to destroy another person’s life, will you wield it?

I’ve heard of people saying “I don’t get mad, I get even” to justify their desire for vengeance. But isn’t the act of getting even a result of one person’s anger for the harm done to him? And, as implied, is revenge really a far better option than getting mad or angry?

And why is it that we refer to settling a score “getting even” when, more often than not, the price the other party pays for is steeper than the cost of the wrong he has committed? And who is keeping score?

I’ve had my fair share of acts of revenge. When I was younger, it was much simpler. When someone hits me, I hit back. When someone calls me name, I make up a derogative name to throw back. The process of growing up made me realize that there are a lot of ways by which a person can hurt another and a lot more ways to exact retribution. Gone were the days when scores were settled through mere fistfights. Now, vengeance is a vicious cycle; everybody needs to settle something that it’s hard to keep track on who was the victim and who was the aggressor. But really, who is keeping score?

I dreamed of, and obsessed over, various ways to get my revenge over those who’ve caused me pain. Crushing. Painful. Sweet. Revenge will be mine, one way or another. When you’re hurt, you have this strong desire to inflict as much pain as you can to the person who hurt you. If you have in your hands the power to destroy another person’s life, you will wield it. Especially if, by wielding it, you leave the other person in a lot worse position than you are right now.

If you have in your hands the power to destroy another person’s life, will you wield it? What if that power was just fleeting, and that the other person will soon possess his own power to crush your life? Is that a price you’re willing to pay for just to quench your thirst for revenge?

Is life the price of revenge?

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