It can be incredibly easy to desire revenge and even act it out in a fit of anger. It can also be fulfilling to see someone get what they deserve. However, is it worth it in the end?
To understand revenge we need to step back and look at evolution. Evolutionary psychologists theorise that revenge developed through natural selection in order to retaliate against an exploiter when injustice has occurred. In my personal opinion, this makes a lot of sense as humanity often relies on social bonds for survival. Basically, if an individual survives it benefits the species as that individual is able to produce viable offspring. A social behaviour that comes to mind when exploring the idea of revenge and survival is reciprocal altruism. This terms refers to an individual temporarily reduces its fitness (ability to survive in an environment) to increase another organisms, with the expectation that the other organism will do the same. Forming these social groups can aid a persons survival until they can reproduce. So, where does revenge come into this? Revenge paves way for justice in people who go against reciprocal altruism.
As humans we would band together in social groups for survival. Taking advantage of others opposes altruism because it’s for ones own gain and doesn’t benefit the group. Revenge in a sense can be viewed as an example of altruism. It’s taking a person who would rather further their own fitness and reducing them down to someone who can no longer be socially accepted (sometimes). Someone who cannot be part of the group becomes someone whose fitness is reduced in the long run. Now, we have an understanding of why revenge behaviours take place and why it was sometimes necessary in the past, what about the present?
Humans no longer need to survive as a species in a sense, of course there are people who are still trying to drastically survive even today, however; what about a situation where you’ve come up with an idea and it gets stolen? Yes, that would completely suck, though what do you do then? Is it ethical in today’s society? Is beneficial and healthy to do?
Ethics would say no. Desire for revenge is often motivated by spite, anger and ego which can be quite toxic for a person. In the end it can create even more suffering at times. Personally, I want to enact revenge at times but I know I’ll feel worse about it than the situation that caused my desire. I guess it’s really up to where a persons morals stand, if they are at the capacity to then it’s their decision. Sometimes though, the best revenge can be showing how much you grew and were able to achieve your goal regardless. Either way, it’s 2020 and as my sister said ‘we’re over taking people’s shit’.
Thanks for reading everyone! I really wanted to explore a normal human emotion that everyone experiences because it’s really hard to overcome that desire at times.