Turning the other cheek

Revenge, it is said, ‘is a dish best eaten cold’. There seems to be some disagreement as to exactly when this proverb was first written but it was certainly widely in circulation by the late 1780’s.

When one has suffered a slight or been humiliated it is only too human to feel angry and vindictive toward the perpetrator. You have been disappointed or hurt and want to even the score. Words said and actions taken in the heat of the moment can be satisfying, but not as satisfying as settling the account at a later date. How often have you like me thought of the killing rejoinder after the event?

The prevalence of social media has led to once loving couples settling scores by publishing intimate photographs, so called ‘revenge-porn’, on the internet. This can be devastating and quite rightly the Crown Prosecution Service has said that it will prosecute in cases where an image taken with consent was then published without consent.

Through life I would suspect most of us say and do things which with sober reflection we wish we hadn’t. The allegations in Lord Ashcroft’s new unofficial biography of the Prime Minister would be a case in point. It would seem the publication of lurid tales of possible youthful indiscretions was an act of revenge for the failure of gaining a senior appointment in government.

In ancient and modern cultures ‘an-eye-for-an-eye’ can seem to be a recourse to justice. It is not, of course; it just perpetuates the violence and creates new grounds for revenge. Jesus, who had good reason for wishing revenge on his many enemies and detractors, understood this.

Revenge, in the end, solves nothing and only diminishes everyone involved. Better surely, to turn the other cheek.


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