Holding onto a deep-seated grudge against someone who has hurt or offended us. Words like, “I hate you and I will never forgive you,” or, “You’ll pay for that,” show that resentment has already formed. We can even get addicted to the high that comes from allowing our hurt to excuse us from behaving responsibly. Holding onto resentment can become a habitual response to people or circumstances that do not meet with our approval, and it can create the habitual need for revenge.
Deep need to retaliate against someone who has offended us by hurting someone/anyone as badly as we have been hurt. Revenge can also be a desire to teach someone a lesson they won’t forget. In its more subtle form, we might abandon the offender and/or withhold communication from her or him as punishment. Such behaviour can easily spiral downward into depression and can become an obsessive compulsion. Words like, “I was hurt so it’s okay for me to hurt anyone who gets in my way,” “What goes around comes around,” “Serves you right,” or “God will get you for this” or “God will hurt you for me,” are all expressions of the desire for revenge.
Let’s look at this illogical hope that God will hurt someone for us: Since we are all children of God, why would the Universal Intelligence, the Creator of everything and everyone, want to hurt any of us? God loves each of us unconditionally so He cannot possibly judge, criticize or condemn anyone. Ever.
We can feel that hurting others is the only way to deal with our pain, but there is another way … forgiveness! However, before we can forgive it is necessary to stop allowing ourselves to react to negative situations with resentment. Sharing our feelings is a great start because very often, the offender hasn’t even a clue that their words/actions were hurtful. At the very least, communication can validate our experience, and it might even open the door to new understanding.
World peace will be impossible until we as individuals stop resenting others and wanting revenge. So let’s not leave it up to the other guy, or the government, or other countries. Let us be the one to flex our forgiveness muscle!
The province in which I live has set aside one day each year to honour one of the key people responsible for bringing about its inception more than 100 years ago, Louis Riel. Of course at that time, there were those who fought against the principles for which this man stood – equality and justice for all. They felt that the indigenous and mixed race inhabitants should be subjugated, banished, or killed, and their lands taken for future sale to the newly arriving immigrants.
Honoring this man was a contentious and controversial decision, but it was taken, and the first annual Louis Riel Day was held in 2008.
Recently someone made a public comment about the holiday: since her great, great grandfather was married to a woman whose father fought against the so-called rebels, this person and her family do not celebrate the holiday.
To summarize, not only was this not her personal grievance; it was not her father’s, nor her grandfather’s, her great grandfather’s, nor even her great, great grandfather’s. It may not even have been her great, great grandfather’s wife’s personal grievance, yet the entire family is holding onto this grudge. Their reasons for doing so are unknown to me, but I can tell you that this is one of the reasons for the deep, wide rift between the peoples of this province. Those on each side of the rift continue to resent those on the other and all feel fully justified in doing so.
World peace? Not likely, so long as people are unwilling to release legacy resentment. This is resentment over issues that began with distant family members in the distant past that has been handed down through the generations. It becomes a perverse point of honour to hold onto it; it taints each succeeding generation and sentences the descendants to a burden that is not theirs to carry.