Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Retribution and revenge
“Retribution is the exclusive revenge for the powerless.”
Let me first qualify - the following blog entry did not come about because I'm angry with anyone or anything. This is purely a philosophical self-discovery piece.
I came up with the quote because I’m always fascinated when people talk about retribution and bad karma. And I realize retribution is a theme that always comes up in those periodic drama, and less so in modern movies. I get attentive when someone around me says, “don’t worry… I’m sure he/she will get retribution for the deed!”
Not being one who’s naturally inclined to religion, the concepts of “retribution” and “karma” do not occur to me other than watching movies and hearing people talk about them. Of course, as a kid I was petrified of the horrific scenes in the 18 levels of Hell at Haw Par Villa. You got to give it to the Chinese – they have a way of making the punishment really visual! Don’t bother going to the temple to confess your sins – it doesn’t work that way. Once a person committed a sin, it’s recorded down in the book of life so the proper punishment can be meted in the afterlife accordingly. You can’t click “undo” or clear the “cache” like other religions. Nice… and they wonder why people are turning to other religions?
Back to “retribution” and “karma”, you’d notice that people only use these concepts when they are not in the position to take revenge? Of course, there are a lot of people who are capable of claim vengeance but not keen to do so, and they also rely on the concepts of retribution. However, people who are powerless to take revenge can only use “retribution” to console themselves, that Heaven will punish the evildoers (in time to come – no less).
Will “Heaven” really punish evildoers? Perhaps not now, but at the opportune moment? That’s what powerless people want to believe, for they are unable to seek revenge with their own strength. They believe divine powers will seek redress for them, and since it is improbable that the redress will happen immediately, they will “wait” for retribution to hit the evildoers. Should something unfortunate befall the evil parties, “retribution” is deemed to have occurred.
The point is – even if some people can get back at the other party they can choose not to avenge any wrongdoings and instead rely on divine “retribution” for redress. The powerless on the other hand, have no choice but to depend exclusively or solely on heavenly punishment, since they are unable to avenge any wrongdoings. So other than being more superstitious, people in the past also live in a feudalistic period where the justice system is subdued under a class/caste system. There is little you can do about the evil and rich upper class other than to curse them with retribution if you’re a poor peasant.
Today we have a much more advanced justice system in place, and society is generally considered to be more fair and just. However, little acts of injustice continues to plague our society, and there are times which we are powerless to get back at the other party. So the next time you wish retribution upon the other party, look deep within yourself and ask if you’re simply powerless to take revenge, or do you seriously entrust the Heavens to mete out the punishment to your tormentors. If vengeance is a commercial product, it’s probably something that a Swedish furniture company can probably sell under a name called REKVENGE perhaps. It’s best to do-it-yourself, and it’s cheaper and a lot faster too!