There’s nothing like someone else acting in a shoddy way and messing you about to make a person want to get their own back. A little poetic justice is a natural enough thing to want, or some chance to even the score, get one over… The worse the treatment, the pain or humiliation inflicted, the more intense the desire to backlash may be.
It’s a circumstance where the innate response and the honourable one don’t always sit well together. What I might want to do, and what I would be comfortable with having done, are seldom the same. I know people who will lash out in anger and who feel that being angry entitles them to lash out in whatever way they please. In terms of people I would like to get even with, these represent some of the cases most on my mind at present. But if I do the same thing, lash out in anger and frustration, I’m replicating their behaviour, I’m reinforcing it as acceptable. I am no better than them. So where does that leave me?
What I want to offer today is a concept I have stolen from my other half, Tom. It’s a beautiful, ethical, responsible model for revenge that can be fine tuned to fit any circumstances. The gist of it: I will have my revenge by being better than them.
More often than not the person dishing it out doesn’t notice if you’re being a far more decent human being than they are. Part of what motivates the desire to settle scores, is the desire to have the other person recognise that they have wronged you and deserve their punishment. In the short term, being a better person is unlikely to deliver this. What it does give, with absolute reliability, is the smug satisfaction that comes from knowing you did the right thing. Calmly walking away rather than shouting back. Doing what you were supposed to do despite the trouble you are given. It’s the kind of response that won’t give you sleepless nights.
Now, let’s go on to imagine that other people are aware of what’s happening. Party 1 has behaved badly, party 2, despite this, has persisted in behaving well. You don’t have to ask people to take sides in that kind of scenario. You don’t even have to mention what’s going on. Actions speak for themselves. If how others see you is important to you, then recognition that you act well even when under attack, is a prize worth having. The measure of your attacker will stay with them. There can be consequences to this, and they can be far reaching, and they can include other people making it clear to the one who wronged you, that they are indeed out of order. A little justice can sometimes then ensue. And even if it doesn’t, you’ve still got room to imagine it. Sometimes the idea of justice is the closest we can get to the actuality of it.
By behaving well under attack, there is always the possibility that the person giving you a hard time will be shamed and/or inspired into doing better themselves, which is a win for you.
Most of us who have dared to even inch off the beaten track will at some point very likely encounter ridicule and derision. Pagans and creative people alike get a lot of unpleasantness from people who see no value in our dreams and aspirations. Of course we can’t be full time druids, or authors, of course we will never find publishers or success. The best route to revenge here, is to prove them wrong. Stick to your values, your dream, and prove that you can make it work. Your success will speak for itself.
Last but by no means least, be happy. Enjoy your life, take pride in yourself, know your own worth and smile a lot. If you encounter people who are determined to put you down and give you a hard time, you can be sure that the one thing they most want to see is you laid low. You are to be defeated, abject, at their mercy, grateful for any small thing they deign to bestow upon you. You are to prove them right. By undertaking to be happy, you deny them this, and if you want ethical revenge, your own refusal to be beaten, cowed or diminished is the best solution imaginable. This way, you can only win.