Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dumb and Dumber

Did any one else hear the program on revenge on the CBC radio program Strange Animal?. It was fascinating because it took a scientific look at vengeance, which seems so programmed into human existence.

One researcher said that his studies of the brain show that people get a "rush" from imagining revenge. But they don't get the same satisfaction from actually exacting revenge. Makes sense to me. I have imagined revenge in everything from the scathing riposte well after the nasty comment was made to me, to much darker thoughts that I will not share because they could put me out of a job. Maybe this "revenge rush" explains why the supposedly Christian nation to our south has been embroiled in a costly boondoggle in the Middle East for the past decade without much to show for it.

A lot of people consider Jesus' encouragement to "turn the other cheek" to be pretty dumb. I talk to people all the time who figure it's fine for Jesus to say so, but he obviously doesn't know their ex, their boss, their sibling. But maybe if "turn the other cheek" is dumb, revenge is dumber.



IanD said...

It's hard, isn't it? My first impulse is to crush, and then think about the ramifications of it later. It's difficult to turn the other cheek when it's flush with rage.

My favourite revenge quotation comes from Robert F. Kennedy. On the campaign trail in 1968, he was initial dogged by the 'ruthless' label that had been applied to him by the press when he became Attorney General in 1961. He had often been characterized as spiteful, vengeful and a terrific bearer of grudges.

He also had a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour, and when a reporter asked him (in '68) about how his 'ruthlessness' might affect his chances of becoming president, he said:

"People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him."

johnny said...

When I get angry at someone, instead of frothing at the mouth or bouncing off walls in rage, I prefer to recite Hannibal Lecter lines. Telling someone, " A census taker once tried to test me - I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti", usually does the trick.

The person usually slowly backs away.

Anonymous said...

A 20 year old guy by the name of Jeff Sheldon who Ive worked with for the past two years at a summer camp offered me some advice on the subject and its become a kind of personal philosophy for me. What he told me is that, "99% of the people 99% of the time do not intend for their actions to make you mad. If that is true why get angry?"

I think that Jesus was right and I try and live every day by turning the other cheek.

lionlamb said...

Great anecdote Ian.

Remind me NEVER to play squash with you Johnny!

Hey Jonathan -- have you and Christopher needed blood fusions working as camp counsellors Up North? I like your friend's perspective.

Anonymous said...

Blood fusions? And thank you. I like the perspective too.

lionlamb said...

Oops. It's important to put the trans in transfusions!