Everyone advise us to forgive and forget... And for those who experience it firsthand, it becomes a pain... those who make advice look like hypocrites...

When we take revenge and get even, we get a satisfaction... If we don't, then we feel weak and feel dominated and that has its toll on our life in the long run...

Also if we keep forgiving others, we'll eventually become docile and those who depend on us will also suffer...

Our sense of pride and dignity is what differentiates us and most of the time be the driving force of our actions in our day to day life... what if we lose it(sense of dignity) and our work, personality and other related things degrade over time?

This question arose out of necessity... I'm on the verge of exacting vengeance... but I convinced myself that this is just the heat of the moment and this might get healed over time and I might not feel the same way after a year... but forgiving can have consequences too... Especially related to my mind and my personality might become docile...

So bottom line is... Is taking revenge(other than life threatening and bodily harm) good for me?

Please don't outright reject the idea of revenge... coz, a lot of other things comes into play... we should fight for what we stand/believe and that in turn makes the other person to realize the overall picture of the world and life... else they'll just do what they like and people in the receiving end will suffer

Update: I had ample opportunities to exact vengeance... But I told myself that, If time can heal me, let it be... and today, the intensity of revengeance feeling subsided... So now I have little/no reason to think about it... But is this good for me(in the long run...)? Is it good for the society to let him get away with what he'd done so easily?

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    Here is an interesting book that I have read. "How can I forgive you? : the courage to forgive, the freedom not to" by Janis Abrahams Spring (2004 Harper Collins). Generally in cases like you describe we most need to forgive ourselves for letting the relationship (whatever it was) go on for too long to begin with. We learn to pay heed to the early warning signs. – Gordon Sep 7 '17 at 13:51
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    This question seems to be more about perhaps cognitive science than philosophy -- at least with its practical rather than systemic focus. Probably for Nietzsche forgiveness makes us weak. For Kierkegaard, it is an act of love... (just to name two) and then each philosopher who has considered it is going to have (a) a different view on the basic idea of forgiveness and (b) a different interpretation of the social consequences – virmaior Sep 8 '17 at 3:55
  • @Gordon, I didn't question forgiving a relationship... Of Course I'll try to forgive everything/everyone in my relationship(even if it's good or bad)... But if an indifferent 3rd person who hurts our loved ones and feel nothing about it(remorse/regrets), should we forgive or exact vengeance? that's the dilemma – Crystal Paladin Sep 8 '17 at 5:01
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    You may contemplate the question how great men could be at the same time forgiving, relaxed, strong and dignified! – infatuated Sep 8 '17 at 14:06
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    Vengeance pertains to God and Him alone. Don't expect to see a perfect settling of accounts in this life, because the complete fulfillment of justice is something that is promised us after death. – user3017 Sep 8 '17 at 15:11

At least one major thinker agrees with this basic premise, but when you put us all together in a society, things get much more complicated. The individual problem is too much of a psychotherapy question -- we officially don't like answering those here. The social parallel is much more interesting philosophically.

You are presuming you are strong to begin with, that you can enforce your revenge without irreparable damage coming to yourself in other ways. If your revenge is against a popular and influential member of society, and you are a member of a lower class, any time you attempt revenge, you could well end up dead.

Most of us simply are not strong. So this is in some sense the normal state. Those in power make many decisions that help some and hurt some. Those with grievances against them are many and often not among the strong. So revenge is often aimed 'upward'. And it cannot be taken, individually, because those who wish for it are not powerful enough to get away with it. To accept it as an ordinary thing that should happen hugely disadvantages those who are already disadvantaged in other ways. Perhaps it would burden them so much that the things we need for them to do never get done.

Nietzsche credits the institutions of Christianity with noticing this fact, and capturing this general trend into a single force. It is easier for those who do not individually hold power to psychologically hamper those who do by making them fear some greater force of infinite power. The mental forms through which 'religions of pity' inculcate guilt automatically punish those who take action too liberally and make the world to their own liking, without calling upon those whom they have actually wronged to take any action at all. This is the force of the Christian conscience and the virtue of humility and compassion, that it requires every act of self-aggrandizement to be apologized for, and to come laden with obligations that invoke negative consequences for any excess. We make huge systems based on compassionate equality to keep us all weak together, just in different ways, and the loss is acceptable.

Overall, this has resulted in an improvement in society. Favoring the many, compared to previous systems that favor the strong, and therefore the few, frees a lot of energy to invest in a culture. But at some point, it becomes a disease. It ensures that no one wishes to improve the world, because all actions that can be taken by an individual will have psychological and social repercussions that outweigh their gains. Since group actions require individuals at least proposing group agenda, all progress becomes a burden, instead.

Nietzsche thought we had already far surpassed that point in his day, and that no real improvement could be made to the quality of life, only to its ease. He predicted that unless a succession of great ideas arose to reverse this tide, mankind would get more and more equal, less and less willing to change, and overall invest all their energy in making one another comfortable, until the efficiency of society was entirely gone, and our overall standard of living would descend until life was very easy for everyone, but simply not worth living. We would converge to being 'The Last Man' who kills himself over the 'Bad Conscience' of his 'Wretched Contentment'.

To some degree we can look around us and see this happening. But in other ways, things are reversing dramatically. Christianity is dying as an institution and culture is becoming more aggressive even as it becomes more guilty.

Modern 'accelerationism' offers an explanation: It is unlikely that anyone in the Victorian period could have foreseen how little use there may ultimately be for the lower social classes, as we undermine the value of their products, compress their social institutions, and mechanize their working knowledge. Despite democracy, we are now more of a society where everyone lives in fear of simply being rendered useless and therefore powerless, than one in which democratic social institutions defend the majority from the powerful. So the power of the weak may simply not be as great as he imagined.

  • Study shows the mood-enhancing effect of retaliation - The British Psychological Society. An individual human has potential to be extremely powerful (affect outcomes), e.g. Jesus, Luis Felipe, Crazy Horse, McVeigh, Koresh, Ammon Bundy, Gavin Eugene, etc etc etc. You just need to lift your head up and look around. Chin up man, you're more powerful than you know. Use it to do right... that's my 2cents on this one. – Ronnie Royston Sep 8 '17 at 20:55
  • @RonRoyston It is about the odds. Also, the first paragraph basically says I am not answering this question about the individual's decision, but about why the society is telling him to betray himself. – user9166 Sep 8 '17 at 23:09
  • Can you expand on how 'accelerationism' offers an answer to the OP [paraphrasing the last part] 'is it good for society to let transgressions occur unpunished.' Also, like @keelan says, your answer includes 0 references and is therefore useless. For more information see How to properly reference sources – Ronnie Royston Sep 10 '17 at 19:57
  • "Despite democracy, we are now more of a society where everyone lives in fear of simply being rendered useless and therefore powerless, than one in which democratic social institutions defend the majority from the powerful." Thank you, that's a very good argument for revenge. – David Blomstrom Sep 10 '17 at 21:05
  • @DavidBlomstrom Just keep the whole context in mind. We may all need to move farther back toward defending ourselves, but not so far you should act against your own long-term interests. – user9166 Sep 11 '17 at 0:55

Revenge is said to be forbidden, however punishment is sanctioned and is very common. For example, The United States of America imprisons (punishes) more of it's people than any county on Earth (source Wikipedia).

You shall not take revenge… -Leviticus 19:18

The answer then is to never take revenge - "the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands." Instead, you punish them, as in "the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense."

This sleight of words is your key. Again, we see this regarding killing. Killing is said to be forbidden.

Thou shalt not kill. -KJV Exodus 20:13

Religious leaders remind us that killing is ok under the right circumstances; it is murder (ר-צ-ח), not killing, than is forbidden. There is a distinction between killing and murder. See Rabbi Marc Gellman's The commandment that 'Thou shalt not kill' refers to murder. See also: [insert your country here]'s criminal code / punishments.

"If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" -Hillel

Forgiveness or punishment for your transgressor is yours and yours alone. Anyone else laying claim to it is a mere thief. In other words if society at large or some random member of the community imposed punishments, embargoes, sanctions, etc upon your transgressor on your behalf they are stealing your revenge. They are wrong for this. Same for forgiveness, society cannot forgive your transgressor on your behalf. See Simon Wiesenthal's book The Sunflower.

Defend yourself. Seek damages, reparations, and perhaps death of your transgressor.

Finally, yes. If you allow people to push you around and disrespect you, your psyche and ultimately your world will deteriorate. Theology professor Leonard Greenspoon reminds us,

David's victory shows the power of his God, while Goliath's defeat reveals the weakness of the Philistine deities."

In other words, a coward is a very poor conductor of God's work. Hillel urges us to stand up now, not tomorrow.

For more direction, see Pirkei Avot

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    Currently, this is nothing more than a statement of your opinion without argumentation or references. The link to Pirkei Avot is useless, as you don't quote from it or point to specific passages. Please edit this to make it objective (not with the aim to convince someone) and add proper references. Lastly, the question is "Is taking revenge ... good for me?" and I don't see where you actually answer that question. This post talks about the right to revenge not whether it is actually good to utilise it. – user2953 Sep 10 '17 at 10:49
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    I added a few references. I appreciate feedback and direction if you have further input. I enjoy this topic. Thank you. Oh and @Keelan the question is NOT "Is taking revenge ... good for me?". You might re-read the OP. – Ronnie Royston Sep 10 '17 at 19:46
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    No, I did not forget that. The problems with this post I mentioned (argumentative writing and poor references) does not apply there; it is not written argumentatively. There are implicit references and in such a case the voting system works to check whether this is a good representation of a thinker's work. When a post is written argumentatively the system can't work in such a way because voting then seems to express disagreement. That is why it is preferred to write answers in an objectively style, something that is still lacking here. // I literally copied the "bottom line" from the OP. – user2953 Sep 10 '17 at 19:59
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    First, watch your tone, please. Second, taking revenge is illegal and clearly distinguished from self-defense in all legal systems I know (mainly western). E.g. the German law says (Section 32, Paragraph 2): "Self-defence means any defensive action that is necessary to avert an imminent unlawful attack on oneself or another." => Not imminent anymore = not covered by self-defence. Additionally, killing out of revenge counts as "base motive", qualifying for a conviction for murder, here. – Philip Klöcking Sep 10 '17 at 23:58
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    @DavidBlomstrom: First, the answer speaks of criminal codes, i.e. legal terms, not whatever one may understand under a certain term. It does so in the context of killing vs. murder. Second, and even worse: It is plainly wrong that killing out of revenge wasn't murder (again, legally speaking). It is one of the classic qualifications for it. Third, it does not matter what you do for revenge. If the action objectively is against the law, it is a qualification for harder punishment, because it is an attack on the Rule of Law itself (except when coinciding with pathological mental states). – Philip Klöcking Sep 11 '17 at 12:26

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