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October 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm #139579Magdelene NashiraParticipant
Today I’ve been studying the Revenge of the Sith book. I was reading the scene where Obi-Wan is cautioning Anakin from allowing his personal feelings of revenge for Dooku to get in the way of their mission to save the Chancellor. So I was thinking about the idea of perhaps being in the middle of a war where one has seen their friends killed by this monster and how difficult that would be to do in reality. Then it also occurs to me the difficulty involved in even being able to realize the slight distinction when we are in a war situation. Or even in an every day situation. When I think about it, there can be a fine line between justice and revenge. So how do we recognize it? So I thought this might be a good discussion topic. What are your thoughts?October 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm #152805JaxKeymaster
I think it’s an issue of your intent. On the outside there may be no difference at all, but on the inside the difference can be substantial. Personally I would have to ask, what is my motivation for my actions? Is it to cause the person pain for what they’ve done? Then it’s revenge and not in my best interest to pursue. But I see justice as healing for the ‘victim’ (sorry, i just hate that word and don’t feel it is helpful when people need to regain their power and heal), where the perpetrator is brought into custody (or just brought to a controlled location) so the person at the receiving end of a crime can confront the other person. Typically this involves the law which attempts to balance the scales but many times it can just involve getting two people in a room so it can be worked out informally. Now, this doesn’t mean the victim doesn’t act from a place of revenge, but we can’t control their feelings or intentions, just our own.
I’ve found the more heinous the crime, the harder it is to separate justice and revenge, because it’s so much more difficult to release the desire to inflict pain in return. It’s an internal struggle that everyone goes through at some point. I don’t think as Jedi we are immune to these feelings, instead it is our willingness to see them and accept them for what they are so we can release them rather than reacting blindly that distinguishes a Jedi from others. (did that make sense?) We have the desire to try harder to not act from revenge or other emotions. We may fail but the more we try the easier it becomes.
We may not face war, but we face smaller, individual battles in our daily lives. I recently went through this myself when I learned more details of a sadistic act done to my loved one. While I felt anger, hate, and a desire to inflict harm, I still knew that acting on this wouldn’t solve anything so I worked on finding a way to release it. It took quite a while, but after a good night’s sleep much of those negative feelings were gone. I believe it is because I set my intention so I could continue to work on it while I slept. The battle isn’t over, it will come up again and I don’t see how I’ll ever interact with the perpetrator in a normal friendly way, I won’t haul off and punch him or yell at him without thinking it through
We’ll all have our own way of figuring this out, but simply asking yourself these questions is a first step. We react until we stop and think. Then we are making conscious decisions. Are you able to stop and ask yourself these questions so you are aware of whether you are acting from revenge or justice?October 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm #152817Brandel ValicoParticipant
I could go into a long drawn out post about this but the short and sweet of it is that Jax nailed my own view of this on the head. It’s the intent behind the action. (The actual intent hidden deep down inside the person not the one they verbalize or the one the tell themselves or convince themselves is the reason) that decides if the act is one of seeking justice or revenge.October 17, 2009 at 5:18 am #152860Magdelene NashiraParticipant
Yes, I agree it’s more of an internal thing, but I think there’s kind of a cosmic justice also. I’m not sure that I could define each one and exactly pinpoint where one crosses to the other in any situation, but I feel as though the Force is leading me to examine this issue closer.
I saw a movie the other day, and I’m not sure what the title of it was because I came in to the middle of it. In the ending credits I did notice it say Mel Gibson was the producer. It was very interesting, though, because it was a drama taking place near the end of the Mayan rule in South America. I’ve seen documentaries where they talk about how they did human sacrafice and pulled out human hearts and threw the bodies down the steps, etc. This was something they did to their enemies as a religious ceremony and as an example to anyone who might challenge them of their great power. Anyway, this is a commonly accepted belief of most archaologists. But Mel Gibson’s movie was done from the point of view of a tribal people who are attacked and either killed, taken as slaves, or set to be sacrafices at the ceremony. It focuses on the main character of a man who was supposed to be sacraficed, but right as they were getting ready to cut out his heart, an eclipse happened. They interpreted this to mean that the God had his fill of blood for the season. So they took the remaining people they intended for the sacrafice to this field beyond which was a forest area. They told them to run and if they reached the forest area they were free. But the thing was pretty well rigged because they had a whole bunch of people throwing spears and shooting arrows at them so it was pretty close to impossible to get across. The main character manages to get close to the area when he is hit through the stomach with a spear, but because his brother who was laying close to him trips the guy who comes after him to finish him off, he gets away. His wound isn’t fatal and he knows he has to survive to go back and get his family out of this pit he hid them in before the rains come and fill the thing with water as they might drown. The Mayan guys get mad and follow him to try to kill him, but at first they get taken down one by one due to acts of nature. After that the guy realizes that nature (the Force?) is on his side, and he has no reason to fear. He then becomes actively involved in setting up traps for the people who are chasing him, therefore becoming in unison with his destiny. At one point he is looking into the eyes of the main chief guy responsible for leading the attack on his people and he is just looking him directly in the eye as if to communicate justice. He doesn’t do anything additional, but just stares him down so the guy has a chance to see that he is considering it justice (or revenge?) Hard to tell when you can’t see inside the guy’s mind. Then by that time there’s only two guys chasing him and they stop when all three get to the ocean and are shocked by the sight of Columbus arriving with his ships. And, of course, we all know how that ends. But the main character leaves off settling his curiousity about Columbus in favor of running back to help his family out of the pit. They end up going off on their own to start over. And then, as I said, we know what ending the Mayans end up with.
Anyway, there’s a couple of things this movie made me realize. 1. There is a fine line between justice ad revenge. Of course I already knew that, but . . . 2. The idea of justice/revenge could depend upon one’s point of view. Before I saw this movie I’d heard a lot about how terrible it was that Columbus and the white people destroyed the Mayan culture. Yet ths movie is interesting because if you look at it from the point of view of the enemies of the Mayans, this is simply justice. Anyway, it really gave me a lot to think about. Was a great movie too.October 17, 2009 at 7:25 pm #152861inariParticipant
That movie is called ‘Apocalyto’. I enjoyed that movie too, though my hubby didn’t (too squeamish).Quote:1. There is a fine line between justice ad revenge. Of course I already knew that, but . . . 2. The idea of justice/revenge could depend upon one’s point of view. Before I saw this movie I’d heard a lot about how terrible it was that Columbus and the white people destroyed the Mayan culture. Yet ths movie is interesting because if you look at it from the point of view of the enemies of the Mayans, this is simply justice.
Good points.October 19, 2009 at 4:20 am #152878Magdelene NashiraParticipant
Yeah! Apocalypto! That’s the movie I ment. Thanks for reminding me the title. I had to hide my face a few times too. It was pretty graphic. One thing I also noticed that I thought was interesting about when I watched the movie is that I was upset more by the violence shown when it was the warriors at the beginning attacking the people of the main character’s tribe. At the end when they started getting payback I didn’t really mind the violence. In fact I was laughing in some of the scenes! Some of those guys were just so mean that when they get it you feel a sense of joy or relief. That’s another thing that makes me wonder if I’m normal or if I’ve got something to work on as a Jedi.November 13, 2009 at 5:51 am #153082AslynParticipant
I’d also note that it’s as much the manner in which you approach such actions that determine whether it is justice or revenge that you are focused upon. ‘Justice’ tends to require a more objective viewpoint, since it determines an action as being wrong or objectionable according to a larger sense of social morality – often bound up in the legal codes of our respective societies. Thus, the motive directed towards justice is constituted not by the notion of personal gain or retribution, but rather derived from a wider social context: seeking to ensure that an offense against the State (which is essentially any action contrary to law, since the citizenry is included in that umbrella) is not repeated by engaging a suitable deterrant – essentially, forcing a person to live with the consequences of their actions.
Revenge constitutes an entirely different methodology – for one thing, it does not need to be directly proportionate to the offense committed. Someone accidentally bumps into you in the street, so you smack them in the mouth. Revenge, and utterly disproportionate to the perceived offense. In truth, the consequences of revenge come down to one thing: fulfilling a person’s need for response-gratification. It’s an entirely selfish indulgence, regardless of whether you coat it in language of ‘being justified’ or ‘necessary’. We take revenge on others because it essentially corrects the state of mind produced by the initial offense – we feel stupid, perhaps violated, hurt, sad, angry, jealous etc. The act of revenge reverses this, giving us a sense of, well, I’d almost suggest it akin to pleasure. It’s vindication for your earlier feelings.
From a Jedi perspective, this is one that is fairly easy to maintain – the line between revenge and justice is, as you say, a fine one, but the vast majority of us spend time working to develop a sense of mental objectivity, being aware of our emotions on an issue but not acting upon them unless these match the correct action according to the needs and/or wishes of the whole (hence, viewing the situation outside of yourself and choosing the action that benefits the whole, rather than simply the individual). It’s proper to feel hurt or merely dismayed when someone acts in a manner that harms you or another, but objectively, taking revenge for this is often a more dangerous course than acceptance or, as a compassionate person would advocate, forgiveness.
Invariably, your first question should always be ‘why did this person act in this way?’. Yes, it’s quite possible you’ve run into someone who has entirely malicious intentions and caused harm to you or another purely for their own pleasure. But, really, true sociopaths are rare, and more often than not, the person causing you harm has underlying issues which resulted in those choices. Need I cite the example of the school bully, tormenting others to avoid facing their own feelings of insecurity? A simple act of revenge would only compound the problem, while taking a moment to view the situation outside of yourself might lead you to try and help your tormentor, thus resolving both of your problems and bringing balance to the situation.
Always comes back to the first rule: when in doubt, take a step back.December 9, 2009 at 3:33 am #153515Magdelene NashiraParticipantQuote:From a Jedi perspective, this is one that is fairly easy to maintain – the line between revenge and justice is, as you say, a fine one, but the vast majority of us spend time working to develop a sense of mental objectivity, being aware of our emotions on an issue but not acting upon them unless these match the correct action according to the needs and/or wishes of the whole (hence, viewing the situation outside of yourself and choosing the action that benefits the whole, rather than simply the individual). It’s proper to feel hurt or merely dismayed when someone acts in a manner that harms you or another, but objectively, taking revenge for this is often a more dangerous course than acceptance or, as a compassionate person would advocate, forgiveness.
Strange, I don’t find it so easy. Sure we work towards this goal, but to state that it is “easy” raises my eyebrow.December 9, 2009 at 5:16 am #153518AslynParticipant
Sorry, I should have clarified by saying that it’s easy (or easier) due to the application of our emotional methodology – determining that fine line between pleasure-generating revenge and appropriate retribution (i.e. legal and non-malicious) becomes much easier when you’re aware of your own emotions and motivations for action. The application of Mindfulness ensures that you are able to distinguish between the two, and the presence of a strong moral compass further ensures that you act in an ethically-appropriate manner in accordance with the guiding principles of the Jedi Way.December 9, 2009 at 5:23 am #153519JaxKeymaster
Thanks for the clarification. I agree. We have more tools available to us to help us see that line and that’s much easier. Granted, you still have to make the choice to not cross that line. And being aware of the line doesn’t mean you are able to control yourself to stop before that line is crossed. But your training gives you a better shot at it at least!
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