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#39846 - 07/03/10 06:33 AM Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?"
Meq Offline
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Registered: 08/28/07
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This was a post I contributed on the Mensa International forums.

I've abridged my post slightly to remove any references to other posts, as it is a closed forum, however this was my position on the topic of debate - "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?":


Self-defense is a distinct issue to after-the-event vengeance.

A psychotherapist I once knew (in thrall to neo-Stoic/Spinozist philosophy) gave the opinion that revenge is nothing but an irrational reaction to one's lack of understanding of the other person's motives. However, although there may be a grain of truth here, by and large I disagree with such a reductionistic approach.

Vengeance (as distinct from self-defense) is important for many whom personal power is important, for the following reasons:

Gaining a reputation as someone who can be harmed with impunity is likely to make one an attractive target for those seeking to exploit one for personal gain, or simply harm one out of sadism. Being excessively forgiving not only gives the message to an amoral perpetrator that "I can get away with harming this person", it may lead them to generalise this to others in general. "Some people are forgiving, I can get away with harming the right ones if I am smart." (Contrary to the views of many liberalists or mystics, I don't see a sweet angel lurking inside the hearts of every such perpetrator merely needing 'education' or 'knowledge' to spread its wings.)

In contrast, judicious use of revenge may lead to a reputation as someone who cannot be harmed with impunity. To those seeking to exploit or harm such a person, this course of action suddenly looks less attractive. Furthermore, not only does taking revenge send out the message: "There are negative consequences for harming this person", it may also send out a more general message: "Harming other people in this manner carries a penalty."

The latter is particularly true when both the original offense and retaliation fall outside the scope of unlawful activity. To give an example, exploiting a vulnerable yet consenting adult for sex (stringing along their feelings) resulting in massive emotional hurt, is often completely legal. Given that social sanctions against such activity are often weak in many quarters, such a perpetrator may only 'learn the lesson' when faced with direct retribution, particularly when the latter is carried out lawfully. Call it lawful vigilantism if you will. The emotional satisfaction received by the bringer of vengeance and/or initial exploitee (whether the same person or a loved one) is another advantage, and a desire for justice may also play a role. However, it may be more about personal power, an important goal for many.

Christian dogma encourages the still-perpetuated prejudice that forgiveness is always "good" and revenge is always "bad" or "evil" (unless God does it), which is often evidenced by many people's overly emotional reactions to the very notion of revenge. However, the above illustrates that this is not always the case, and that excessive forgiveness can lead to more harm than good, when a little revenge would be more appropriate. Promoting such "blanket" forgiveness may even have the effect of eroding already weak social sanctions against certain harmful actions, giving unscrupulous perpetrators free reign. Such a perpetrator's paradise is not my idea of the kind of society I'd like to live in, much less promote.

"A little revenge is more humane than no revenge at all." - Friedrich Nietzsche


Any comments? Critiques?

Meq

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#39847 - 07/03/10 06:58 AM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Meq]
Morgan Offline
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Interesting......

"that excessive forgiveness can lead to more harm than good, when a little revenge would be more appropriate. Promoting such "blanket" forgiveness may even have the effect of eroding already weak social sanctions against certain harmful actions, giving unscrupulous perpetrators free reign. Such a perpetrator's paradise is not my idea of the kind of society I'd like to live in, much less promote."


M
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#39871 - 07/03/10 04:39 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Morgan]
GillesdeRais Offline
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Fucking-A, Morgan. A succinct quote that gets right down to the brass tacks. I don't really consider myself as being intellectual enough to perceive the true tenets of LaVeyan Satanism, but I can tell right from wrong when it is spoken/written...Or at least I hope so...
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#39874 - 07/03/10 05:00 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Morgan]
Jake999 Offline
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Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
 Originally Posted By: Morgan
Interesting......

"that excessive forgiveness can lead to more harm than good, when a little revenge would be more appropriate. Promoting such "blanket" forgiveness may even have the effect of eroding already weak social sanctions against certain harmful actions, giving unscrupulous perpetrators free reign. Such a perpetrator's paradise is not my idea of the kind of society I'd like to live in, much less promote."


M


Interesting indeed, Morgan, but I think it's more a matter of "life in his mind," rather than life in reality in which it can (and should) be applied. Of course, one can come up with all kinds of mitigating factors when one brings the philosophical into the realm or reality. It becomes a game of semantics, but it looks just as hypocritical.
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#39879 - 07/03/10 05:23 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Meq]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
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The slave religions generally share in slogan, but ignore in practice, the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." [I know this from reading the first few pages of the Gideon Holy Bible in hotels when there's nothing on TV.]

Anton LaVey amended this to the Satanic "Do unto others as they do unto you."

I prefer: "Do unto others before they do unto you." And also: "Forgive your enemies - but don't forget their names."
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#39880 - 07/03/10 05:26 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Jake999 Offline
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Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
 Originally Posted By: Michael A.Aquino
The slave religions generally share in slogan, but ignore in practice, the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." [I know this from reading the first few pages of the Gideon Holy Bible in hotels when there's nothing on TV.]



LOL! Fates protect me from ever being caught in ANY hotel when there's nothing on TV. One of the main reasons I tend to stay in hotel/casinos whenever possible.
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Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#39888 - 07/03/10 09:05 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
GillesdeRais Offline
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Posts: 141
Whenever I see this clip, it reminds me of a bizarre Setian ploy to trick good, honest people into a state of moral ambiguity. \:\)

Edited by GillesdeRais (07/03/10 09:06 PM)
Edit Reason: quantum mechanics
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#39891 - 07/03/10 10:19 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Meq]
BFranklin Offline
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Registered: 11/27/09
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I think the most important issue to consider with respect to revenge is the power arrangement between the avenger and the avengee. For example, I would love to get revenge against the governments of Massachusetts and the United States for forcing me to buy health insurance which I do not want and cannot afford, and for wasting my tax money on wars I did not declare, against strangers who have never harmed me personally. But a lone wolf trying to get revenge against the Massachusetts Snake House or the presi-king of the United States would be an act of stupidity.

On the other hand, I was once a high-school teacher in a school where the students had zero respect for teachers. (ANY teachers). What about the times that a student did something vile to me in front of my entire class? In that case, where I am supposed to be the authority, NOT reacting would be an act of stupidity. (I perceive a reaction coming down the pipe, that disciplining a minor isn't exactly revenge. But you probably get the point. Float a better example if you want.)

Revenge against a higher power is stupidity. Revenge when you are the one in a formal position of authority, is vital. Muddy ground in between the two.
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#39892 - 07/03/10 10:32 PM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
BFranklin Offline
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I own a T-shirt from one of the cheesey tourist shops in New Orleans, which has a black skull and reads "Voodoo unto others before they Voodoo unto you." It's 15 years old now, but you might still be able to get one. (If the shop is still standing.)
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"Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what to eat. Liberty is a well-armed lamb"
-B Franklin

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#39923 - 07/04/10 06:52 AM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: BFranklin]
ceruleansteel Offline
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 Quote:
Revenge against a higher power is stupidity.


I disagree wholeheartedly. Revenge against a higher power, to me, is even more important than revenge against those who are basically powerless against you. You have everything in your life to thank for this particular opinion, as is evidenced here:

 Quote:
...when a long train of abuses and usurpations...evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future.


Where would we be without these ballsy muthas? Suckin' England's ass?

I have to agree with the idea that revenge is a good way to tell someone to quit fuckin' with you. Just be prepared for the idea that there may be consequences to your actions.

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#39930 - 07/04/10 09:13 AM Re: Mensa forum topic: "To Forgive or Not to Forgive?" [Re: ceruleansteel]
BFranklin Offline
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Registered: 11/27/09
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Loc: Boston
My reference to “power arrangement” implies that sometimes the other power is so much greater that it would be stupid to act against them, i.e. impossible to win. I did say there is “muddy ground in between”. Americans initiated their revolution because they had a fair chance of winning, given the power they knew they had at their disposal. I was referring to a single individual standing up to a government. You could theoretically win a lone-wolf battle in court, but don’t hold your breath.

Incidentally, the person who started this thread distinguished between defense and revenge…Remember that the rank and file American revolutionaries thought of their actions largely as revenge, but the people who actually called the shots – people like Benjamin Franklin – were thinking of it mainly as defense.

As to your point about whether Americans are better off as Americans TODAY, as opposed to being British citizens…well, neither of us can tell what the unified nation would have looked like. But if you want to compare the conditions of British citizens today vs. that of Americans today, I would take British citizenship with all of its imperfections IF I had to make that choice. But, I’m a Canadian with a green card living in the U.S.A.
_________________________
"Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what to eat. Liberty is a well-armed lamb"
-B Franklin

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#39947 - 07/04/10 05:10 PM The Colonists are Revolting! [Re: BFranklin]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
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 Originally Posted By: BFranklin
Remember that the rank and file American revolutionaries thought of their actions largely as revenge, but the people who actually called the shots – people like Benjamin Franklin – were thinking of it mainly as defense.

There was a fascinating discussion on KPFA, the Bay Area's pet troublemaking radio station, this morning about the "backstory" of the American Revolution. 600Cers might enjoy a listen.
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#39969 - 07/04/10 10:11 PM Re: The Colonists are Revolting! [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Dakota Offline
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Registered: 12/23/09
Posts: 60
Loc: Michigan
Forgive but not forget, since the silly people do not know what they do. And the reason not to forget is to empower yourself when you feel like you are losing your goal. The more enemies someone has, the better.

The ultimate revenge isn't the act of revenge either, since anyone can do "revenge" on someone. I could always strike revenge by spreading a nasty rumor, or hurt them emotionally with some action. So, therefore the ultimate revenge is “make that person hate your guts”. Improve yourself so much that when they look at you, they will think “I am an inferior”. That’s it. That’s power, it’s not what you do, it’s what you become. It’s you, that’s the revenge.

What will I gain though even if I strike revenge? All that extra mental, physical, emotional energy spent on someone who isn't worth a second of my time after I am done with what I needed.



Edited by Dakota (07/04/10 10:12 PM)

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#39986 - 07/05/10 04:50 AM Re: The Colonists are Revolting! [Re: Dakota]
GillesdeRais Offline
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I prefer what I like to call the patient Machiavellian plan when it comes to pay-back.. Striking upon one who has wronged you takes time, planning, and stylistic creativity. It always helps to disseminate as much information as you can collect, glean it, then begin to design the sequential set of actions that will ensure your machinations are legal, yet unforgettable.
These are a few of my favorite things...:)
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#39996 - 07/05/10 05:04 PM Re: The Colonists are Revolting! [Re: GillesdeRais]
ceruleansteel Offline
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Posts: 784
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If a person is truly seeking revenge, it can't be swift unless you already have intimate knowledge of the person you are striking out against. Revenge is wasted if it doesn't have maximum effect with minimal effort on your part. So I agree, you have to be patient enough to learn the person's every move and what their weaknesses are, then either exploit those weaknesses or use them to cripple your enemy.
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