Thursday, January 1, 2015

Distinction of Justice vs. Revenge

A loved one and I were having a conversation over dinner and the topic of justice vs. revenge came up. The world is certainly full of a lot of drama and with the ability to instantaneously respond to things via cellphones, computers and internet, many people have failed to acquire the habit of thinking things through. They *react* to things instead of  contemplating and then *taking action*. There truly is a big difference. I once heard the analogy that our emotions are a horse and we are the rider. We can let the horse buck and fight and race about madly, or we can tame them and ride them with control.

My loved one stated that when people claim they want *justice*, what they really mean is they want *revenge*.  I reflected on that and to some degree he was correct. But then I decided there truly is a difference between *justice* and *revenge*.  Revenge means you want to lash out at someone that has angered, wronged or injured you. You immediately think, well, doesn't justice mean exactly the same thing? Yes and no. Here is the distinction that exists in my mind.

Justice -- the desire to persecute/punish someone for a wrongful act but to do so "within lawful limits". A common statement would be "throw the book at them" or "punish them to fullest extent possible under the law". Is it a form of revenge? Certainly. But it is done within the boundaries and limits of the legal system.

Revenge - the desire to get even by whatever means it takes. No limits, no boundaries. That's a pretty scary thought. For instance, you accidentally cut someone off in traffic or circumstances forced you to do so. Or perhaps you were in a selfish hurry when you did it -- the reason you did it is irrelevant for purposes of this analogy. So, you cut someone off in traffic and the next thing you know, they are chasing you down the highway, trying to run you off the road, perhaps shooting at you. Or they follow you all the way to your destination and then confront you or sabotage your vehicle. This is revenge. This type behavior has become so common place that it has been given a special name -- *road rage*.
Goddess Themis - click here to read more on her.

How would a justice oriented person handle the same situation? They might choose to get the tag number and call it in warning that someone is driving sporadically/dangerously. A justice oriented person would work within legal bounds.

While revenge wouldn't necessarily fit well in a Wiccan system that honors Harm None, I believe justice could fit nicely. I have a strong belief in being a law abiding citizen and when someone doesn't abide by the laws, I firmly believe that justice should be meted out. So absolutely, if someone harms me or mine, my belongings etc., I don't have a problem seeking justice within the legal bounds afforded me.

For some, this will all seem to be semantics, but for me, it is an important distinction. The lines between two sides of something are often blurred and subtle. It is our individual responsibility to find those lines and determine where we stand.

Bright Blessings to All,
Rayven Michaels

Words to Live By - Do You Know What Yours Are?

When a person follows a pre-constructed religious path, all the tenants of faith are laid out for them and they have but to apply them to th...