No to revenge, please

The world can sure be a better place to live in if only `thinking people' can keep a tab on their negative emotions. Easier said than done?

The Human Understanding and Tolerance Society (HUTS), which organises lectures regularly, chose to deal with the deadliest of human emotions -- REVENGE. The urge to retaliate when pinned down or subjected to what one sees as injustice, discrimination and humiliation. That's revenge, the commonest response.

A child refusing to study wants to teach a lesson to his parents as they declined to oblige him with a goody. A wife showing resentment by making food too spicy for the hubby. They are, of course, mild forms of revenge.

Imagine the repercussions when an individual, group or a community or even a State harbouring pent up vengeance, turns paranoid and unleashes a lethal form of revenge? It could result in criminal acts like violence, murder or an act of massive destruction like 9/11.

The psychology of revenge is quite complex, say psychologist, Prasada Rao, and psychiatrist, Khan. A trait that can be picked up even by a one-year-old when his mother stomps the floor where he fell down. The tit for tat syndrome starts here. A suspicious, edgy parent unable to handle emotions sets a wrong model for the growing up child.

But think about it. Revenge never created winners. So how to control it? By resolving conflict through dialogue. There again lies the catch. What one perceived as insult and injustice may not be so in the eyes of the other. "That's the crux of the problem and there is no meeting point to resolve the conflict then,'' says M.S. Reddy, HUTS member.

``If I forget and forgive for an insult/injustice, will it not be interpreted as weakness?'' asks a listener. "Hindu kingdoms were plundered by invaders as their tolerance and philosophy was considered meekness,'' says another.

But compassion, the ability to forget/forgive, expressing the hurt helps control the negative emotion. Analysing the welling up anger itself can tone down its impact. "There is no solution for or an antidote to revenge. But taking revenge through extreme acts doesn't end the problem. It leads to another, counters another.

How does one resolve it? By developing new social skills and looking at the conflict in a humourous way, keeping an open mind. From the individual to the State. If one cannot become a saint, at least tone the violent form of revenge to a non-violent one, says Dr. Khan.

``When life is short, how do people find time to hate? '' Is that the answer?

By Melly Maitreyi M.L.

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