Why retaliation does not work: Continue kindness when trouble comes


KRIS GRAY, News Editor

     Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” When will we finally realize the depth of this concept?

     Islam encourages retaliation as a tool to achieve justice, to calm anger, to relieve emotional suffering, etc. On the other hand, Romans 12:21 from the Bible states, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

     Even outside of religion, it makes sense to forgive rather than retaliate. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the entire world blind.” Returning evil with evil does not bring what you lost back, it just causes greater evil. For example, if you add two to two, it results in four. This represents the cycle of retaliation. But if you subtract two from two which is the same as returning a negative with a positive (showing love when you have received hate), you result in zero. That is how you cancel out evil. By doing the right thing contradictory to the person causing the pain.

     This idea is something that our society and government is still struggling to comprehend. With death penalties and revenge killings, we are enforcing the cycle of payback. This continuous pattern of anger is the reason for our unhappiness and our demise. 

     Another example would be if someone punched me in my face and I decided to get payback and punched them too. I might feel like I achieved justice or satisfaction, but in the end, that person is hurt and so am I. That is not justice, that’s revenge. Studies show that focusing on revenge increases stress, inhibits mental functions, and weakens the immune system; the negative emotions that you harbor do more harm to yourself than the person who offended you.

     Psychology Today says, “Forgiveness is a paradigm-shifting solution for transforming anger. It liberates you from the trap of endless revenge so that you can experience more joy and connection.”

      Retaliation is something that society happily accepts and normalizes. We must rid our community of this mentality. I know it may seem like I am preaching, but I am taking my own advice. Every day I struggle with forgiveness. Like many others, I have been raised to retaliate. But as a Christian and just an aspiring good person, I must understand when and when not to fight back.