The Futility of Revenge

The killing in the Middle East never seems to stop. I cannot list all the killings; 23 people were killed in Pakistan while paying their respects at the funeral of a police officer, more than 30 were killed by a series of bombs in Baghdad and there are many more incidents of killings which are conducted in the expectation of solving a particular problem.

In case you are under a misapprehension that all the killing is done by terrorists I should in the interests of balance point out that an American drone killed six people in Mareb in the Yemen in the hope that four of them were members of Al Qaeda and the past two weeks there have been six drone attacks by the American government that have killed at least 29 people, according to CNN.

Unfortunately, violence, that last refuge of the incompetent and the deranged, is increasingly regarded as the solution to political and religious problems and differences. Organisations, movements and governments now regard violence as a legitimate means of dealing with those who oppose them. Reaching for the gun or the bomb or the drone is no solution; it just creates an additional problem.

It is odd that intelligent people, sit calmly to plan the complete destruction of their enemies without understanding that, short of a completely successful genocide, destruction of their enemies will never be complete; destruction of enemies is the intercourse that gives birth to new enemies out of the death of the old one. There will always be friends and relations of those killed who resort of violence not just as a means of opposition, but also as a means of revenge.

Revenge is one of the most futile of human pastimes and is counterproductive. It does not heal the injury, but picks at it, making it less likely to heal. It not only harms the person upon whom revenge is wrought, but equally harms the person who takes revenge.

The world lauds Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for forming the military wing of the African National Congress as a younger man who thought that violence would end injustice in South Africa, but when he was finally released from his imprisonment he spoke not of revenge against those who had stolen much of his life, but of peace and reconciliation.

As much as this behaviour is praised it is rarely copied. Mr Obama did not preach peace and reconciliation against Al Qaeda but practised and still practises violence of the most extreme kind against them. You see, like Al Qaeda, he fails to appreciate that the greatest problems in the world today will not be susceptible to a violent solution.

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