Revenge Vs. Justice

What is revenge, and why is it best-served cold?  Is justice just organized revenge invented by the human mind?  The similarities and differences are topics I have been pondering recently.  There are many views about justice systems in the world and many varying views on the concept of revenge.

Revenge, by definition, is “The action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.” I interpret this to mean that someone else is trying to exert their suffering onto you to try and lessen the pain upon themselves. Now that we know the dictionary definition of revenge, we can explore the topic more deeply. If someone belittles us with their little words in an attempt to bring us down, why does it feel so good to fire back with a snarky comet to put them in their place? Doing so brings us temporary satisfaction, but in the long run, it brings us no closer to true happiness, the very thing every living creature truly desires. If we look at a more physical example, say someone publicly embarrasses us. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the person in question disclosed a secret we entrusted to them. We may feel a range of emotions, including sadness, wrath, and possibly resentment. It would be natural to assume that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth would be the right thing to do. Would that be considered justice? I think not!

The justice system I am most familiar with is that of the United States, as to convey my thoughts clearly, I will be referring to this throughout this half of my argument. The Oxford English dictionary defines justice as “Just behavior or treatment.” in the U.S., someone can rob a drug store and be sentenced to a couple of months to a few years in a correctional institution.  I would not consider this to be revenge because the store owner is not committing an action to “get back” at the criminal.  However, if the robber were to rob the store and murder the clerk and then be sentenced to death, this could be considered revenge from the hammurabic stance.  From my point of view, this is a cruel act; as mentioned in posts that predate this one, I have said that I do not believe humans have the authority to determine who lives and dies.

Nevertheless, the clerk’s family would most likely consider this a win for society and gain some sort of sick satisfaction out of the ordeal. Still, on the other hand, if the murder was somehow acquitted of all charges, the victim’s family may take the situation into their own hands and kill him.  Now would this be considered justice or personal revenge?

My personal opinion on the matter is that justice is yet another failed invention of the human mind and a fancy way of making revenge seem less inhumane. 

Waiting for your judgment,

-Jackson Jamesblood


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