Hate and war are so much easier than love, peace, and tolerance.
When we are hurt or perceive a threat or injury inflicted on us by someone, our first instinct is to lash out. After all, self-preservation is how humans have made it this far in our existence.
Even without the inclination or ability to rationalize their actions to a profound level, the early versions of man needed and had survival instinct in abundance. For example, if Ugh stole food or possessions from Lug, Lug grabbed his club intending to retrieve his property, even if his actions resulted in the death of Ugh. Not unlike modern folks, even early man treasured stuff.
We do not know whether Cain and Abel preceded the appearance of homo sapiens on this planet. But since this Big Blue Marble is quite large, perhaps they lived in different regions at the same time. Nevertheless, Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, acted similarly to Ugh and Lug.
Cain felt Abel was the favorite son, and he killed his brother to eliminate the threat of losing the parental love he craved. Of course, that did not work out so well for either Cain or Abel. You may think humanity progressed somewhat from such explicit and brutal retaliation, but not by much.
The outcome of a trial in Dallas had the potential to rip apart the city. A white, female officer, thinking she entered her apartment, shot and killed a black man. Unfortunately for both parties, it turned out to be his apartment and not hers.
Folks who thrive on stirring the simmering pot of resentment and hatred for the basest of needs — power and financial gain — were busy agitating the minority community, demanding vengeance. They threatened retribution if the jury did not convict her to the fullest extent of the law.
As it turned out, the jury’s verdict was murder, but instead of twenty-eight years or life, their choice was ten years. The trial was over.
Outside the courtroom, the pot neared the boiling point. The city braced for untold days of violence. Then the dead man’s eighteen-year-old brother asked to address the former policewoman.
He said he forgave her and prayed for her to find Christ and make her life better. Then the young man asked permission to hug the woman who ended his older brother’s life. By his words and actions, the young man managed to thwart the hate mongers’ plans.
People in the courtroom, those outside poised to wreak havoc on the city, and many who watched the video or heard the recording wept. The goodness of one man had the power to calm the impending storm.
Think of the times in your life you wanted revenge. As is often the case, the cause was something petty someone did to disrupt your life. When you consider how oblivious people tend to be, the disrupter may not even realize the consequence of his or her words or actions.
If we are honest, our first instinct to seek revenge is nearly overwhelming. Our common sense takes a brief or even extended vacation as we plot.
“I’m going to say…” Or, “I will do … to hurt him or her,” you mutter through gritted teeth while seething with righteous indignation.
Not unlike most folks, this writer admits to the desire for revenge. The scenarios she envisioned to exact revenge were elaborate and not pretty. After all, she is a writer, and plotting a story is her stock and trade.
Thank goodness for the kernel of decency that found refuge in her pinky toe. Eventually, she managed to cool down and did not act on the powerful impulse to cause someone pain or exact a pound of flesh. Why? Common sense kicked in. The blood pressure settled to lukewarm. She realized pursuing revenge would not only hurt others but herself as well.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it. “The old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.”