The Conflict of Retaliation Versus Forgiveness
Certain schools of thought going by their ancestral or historical lineage profess the concept of retaliation (vengeance) through such theories as “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth.” However, other schools of thought profess the principles of forgiveness through such theories as “forgive and forget” or “turning the other cheek.” There are other theories that encourage the release of justice and retribution to a superior power that says “leave vengeance to me” or “Vengeance is mine.” There are other statements that implore man to leave the dispensation of justice and punishment to a superior hand; “what goes around comes around,” “God is love and can only give love,” and more. The question remains; which of these principles provides man and mankind with the opportunity of getting along with relative peace and understanding in this age of steadily increasing strife and conflicts?
It is my understanding as I have maintained in other writings that the concept of “absolute peace on earth” is a misconception. It is unattainable simply because the constitution and evolution of man on earth as well as the constitution and evolution of earth itself as a planet and level of existence makes it improbable for their to be absolute peace on earth. However, the fact that absolute (100%) peace is not attainable on earth does not mean that all hope should be given up. In the desire to seek and attain any level of peace, man rekindles in himself that Divine quality of Love, which is actually the essence of his being. In the course of man’s journey through earth it is significant whether he plays the role of a peacemaker or troublemaker. It is significant whether he is able to relate with fellow creatures in a manner that helps his ascension to the true state of Soul or if he continues to allow himself to descend further down the abyss of negativity through violence, destruction, and materiality.
The level of an individual’s consciousness is reflected in the attitude and choices of that individual at each point in time. It is always a variable matter of life in this universe. Many individuals would want to be channels for the expression of the positive while others prefer being channels for the negative. Consequently, the battle between the so-called “good” and so-called “evil” continues to thrive perpetually in the course of life on earth. “So called” because in many cases, what is “good” or “bad” is relative to the particular circumstance. Freedom is an attribute of Soul, but for every freedom of action or thought, each Soul must bear the antecedent responsibility. The theory of “action and responsibility” or “cause and effect” circumvents the perplexity that may arise from whether an action is “good” or “bad” since one gets in return what one has put into the universe regardless. This is the Law regardless of how any school of thought may want to modify or sugarcoat it to please the expectations of its followers.
Knowing the above, man is free to tow the path of forgiveness or that of vengeance. It is not the purport of this piece to advice any individual on which path to tow, rather the purport here is to remind us of our abilities and freedom to make these choices and also of what returns we may expect in life based on what we put into it. The experience of many bear witness to the fact that the man who wakes up today and decides to go about his business with a forgiving attitude about yesterday, gets to have a jolly day filled with new opportunities and challenges to move on with life and to improve as an individual. On the other hand, the man who wakes up today carrying with him the bitterness of yesterday finds himself burdened and preoccupied with the anger, loss, and rancor which influences his day and slows down his progress in life and as an individual. He wastes precious time and energy drained on how to get back at someone.
The irony of it all is that even after the act of vengeance is carried out, it rarely ever gives the vengeful person any relief or peace of mind. Actually, the only thing that may come out of it is that the offended person may retaliate in similar terms, and thus, the cycle of negativity continues while consuming the involved persons with hate, anger, revulsion, animosity, acrimony, and more. A situation like the preceding one may be put to an end by the willingness of one of the parties choosing to forgive the other, thus breaking the cycle.
Much of the turmoil being perpetrated on earth today in the name of religion and/or politics are the results of man’s unwillingness to tolerate and understand another and perhaps then forgive the other. Rather, man is quick to take offence and eager to find ways to reward any seeming offence through vengeance coated in the politics of governmental policies and religious
expression. Man has allowed himself to be extremely influenced by religion, politics, or social demands in such a way that he hardly knows when to draw the line between being faithful and being brainwashed, or between being patriotic and being overzealous.
Some of us are blinded with what we have been fed by those who manipulate politics and religion, and some of us now go along acting like remote-controlled robots perceiving life
with shortsightedness. Some of us have lost our sense of independent
reasoning and rather blindly allow ourselves to be led into obvious pits just because of the ego and pride which prevent us from owning up to the truth and reality. Some of us have chosen to remain in the chains and prisons of the mind, thought, and inaction because we have refused to look within, think for ourselves, and believe in our freedom to free ourselves of any impediments that we may falsely be living in the moment.
Life is filled with variable circumstances and differing perspectives, hence man will always differ with one another in many ways. Therefore, is it not folly to think that life will always go along smoothly amongst people of different background and orientation? Whether we find ourselves together in a relationship, business association, partnership, or in any other circumstance as momentary colleagues or partners, we could have the best of times while they last by realizing that the other person or entity may not be perfect and may sometimes offend us or differ from our perspective. And even if such difference causes
one's relationship to end, we could still move on with life by forgiving the other person or entity. That means exchanging pleasantries if we run into each other next time. That means not going around damaging the reputation of an “ex-…” just because we broke up. That means letting the other person move on so we can also move on. That means not conspiring to topple or destroy the other person or entity just because we disagree. That means not wishing the other person or entity any ill just because our personal or business relationship did not workout. But again, it is all a matter of choice, yet the fact remains that these things have a way of going around and coming around.
Yes, the theory of forgiveness simply remains a theory to many of us because we are yet to summon the courage to forgive and let go our guilt, resentment, or bitterness. We find it hard to dwell on the good times and play down the bad times. Yet, there is little or nothing to gain by going around singing
and dwelling on bad times or planning to bring more evil times on another. Life can always give us more goodies if we learn from the past, look forward to the future, while making the best of the present. If one desires peace and love, one must forgive the falling of the cup and rather pick it up, and hold it up to the constant flow of the blessings of life and love which is naturally devoid of vengeance. It is never too late. I am working on this.
©Oliver O. Mbamara,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Mbamara is an Administrative Law Judge with the State of New York.
He is also a filmmaker and a Published Poet and playwright. For more on Oliver, please visit
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