The desire for revenge is often associated with a form of motivation that tricks people into believing there is a sense of fairness that comes with a vengeance. Mostly, this desire comes when injustice takes place, and people end up believing restoration of balance comes when a wrongdoer pays for what he or she has done. In the moral universe, morality makes people think revenge is the only way through which justice prevails. Hence, revenge is never justified since its motivation mainly originates from bitterness, bruised egos, and spite.
‘Revenge is a dish best served cold is a phrase that brings out the understanding that achievement of satisfaction only occurs when vengeance takes place sometime after har has been instigated (Phrase and Idiom Dictionary, 2021). The inability of the legal justice system fuels the desire to take revenge to establish balance to past harm. The mentioned inability makes it impossible for the hurt individual to reach out for the needed assistance instead of condonation (Rosenbaum, 2013). Revenge has never been any part of any system throughout the world; no justice system can justify it. Thus, the meaning within the phrase comes out to show regardless of the inability of the justice system, retribution for any form of injustice takes place and can dispassionately take place.
Revenge has often been equated to a form of seeking justice. This form of justice, understandable or not, is not beneficial. Justice and revenge can never be the same. The emotional desire that fuels revenge comes from bitterness, bruised egos, and spite, and most of the time, people do not think of how best to channel the negative feelings (Maguire, 2016). There is no justifiable way by which individuals can show that because someone did some harm to them, they have a reason to do the same to others. Entertaining such thoughts and considerations trigger a chain of other bad things that takes place later.
People tend to justify why they harm others. Majorly, the main reason given is the need to teach others a lesson. If teaching a task was the main objective, it would be better to seek after best possible ways by which such studies can be conducted (Freshley, 2021). The other main reason people justify their need for revenge is the inner peace that comes with revenge. However, if the main reason were true inner peace, then perhaps it would be better to consider every other available option that would result in the same peace without harming others. Among the options considered would be a change in an individual’s behavior or attitude towards the past harm. In search of emotional, personal, or inner peace, revenge is the least practical approach (Freshley, 2021).
As natural as revenge may come as a human response to harm, it becomes essential to ask ourselves whether it is the first option we should take when wronged. When morality comes into play, every person should question/whether revenge is a moral thing to consider. In any ethical setting, what starts as a noble and just quest for past harm, often ends in violent escalation. With this revenge understanding established, justice will never prevail until wrongdoers become subjects of suffering (Maguire, 2016).
While the concept of revenge prevails in the world of movies, Maguire (2016) shows that the act of seeking revenge tends to trigger unfortunate outcomes. In July of 2016, road rage was a significant concern to the Californian governor, leading to a new law that combats revenge porn (Maguire, 2016). As Maguire puts it, revenge porn is an encounter where bitter exes post their former lovers’ private sexual photos. Regardless of whether the objective of the revenge is honorable or just, more sufferings are associated with revenge in the real world.
In the words of Francis Bacon, a man becomes even with his enemy by engaging in revenge acts; however, he becomes superior to his enemy by passing over revenge; this is a prince’s part to pardon (Rosenbaum, 2013). While the notion of an eye for an eye exists in the Old Testament, the New Testament calls people to instead forgive than get revenge. Due to its power, forgiveness plays a significant role in restoring justice by bringing proper rehabilitation and helping victims find lasting peace (Rosenbaum, 2013). However, this becomes effective only when the wrongdoers willingly accept to be responsible enough to make amends. Likewise, the victims must desire the amends since no one can be forced to forgive and cannot force forgiveness on anyone can never cause forgiveness. This understanding of forgiveness and not revenge is best evident in South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission (Rosenbaum, 2013).
If revenge was justified and all people followed this way of thinking, we should ask ourselves how far people are willing to go to achieve their inner peace and teach others lessons. For example, if past harm resulted in death, will we stop at nothing until the perpetrators are dead as well? If an eye for an eye principle continued to be effective and revenge would result in more harm, do you think Gandhi would be right by saying an eye for an eye would make the world blind?
Regardless of the reason given, revenge is never justified. Therefore, morality is not the best way to seek justice because it results in more harm than good. As such, as natural as revenge comes as a human response, people should ask themselves whether to forgive and find lasting peace or revenge and make things worse.
Freshley, C. (2021). Revenge is Never a Reason: A Good Group Tip Craig Freshley.
Maguire, L. (2016). The Morality of Revenge. Web.
Rosenbaum, T. (2013). Payback: The revenge case. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Phrase and Idiom Dictionary: What Does Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold Mean? – Writing Explained. (2021).