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Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #17A:
Bitterness & Vengeance


Worldview Theme #17B:
Gratitude & Forgiveness

Contrast Worldview Themes #17A and #17B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

amok syndrome -- an extreme emotional state, often triggered by loss of honor, love, or fortune so that one feels there is nothing more to lose, involving an uncontrollable, frenetic murderous rampage. The rampage can be carefully planned and seen by the perpetrator as a means of redemption or deliverance

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”—an Old Testament biblical verse that connects with the modern concept of retributive justice and the notion that the punishment should fit the crime. Thus if you unjustly take someone’s life, you should pay with your own life.  Students of the Bible may connect this with a vengeful Old Testament God, and contrast Him with the loving “turn the other cheek” God of the New Testament.  

anger--a strong emotional reaction often accompanied by various observable changes in measurable  physiological quantities, body language, facial expressions--and verbally or physically aggressive behavior. This response follows some triggering stimulus, chain of events, or wide variety of situations--which the person who experiences it or them may think of as "what happened to me": being strongly displeased, inappropriately restrained, treated unfairly, harassed, threatened, attacked or something similarly happening to one's loved ones or personal property.  While some anger may manifest itself immediately, sometimes it can build slowly, simmering before erupting.

blame--is placed by a displeased angry person on another person, persons, or an institution to communicate that they are believed to responsible or at fault for the perceived (real or imagined) offense.  Blame involves making a judgment, serving notice that another is being held accountable, and potentially seeking justice. 

blood feud or vendettaa feud in which the relatives of someone who has been killed or wronged enact vengeance by killing or hurting those deemed responsible for the initial wrong or their relatives. Such acts are often part of a retaliatory cycle of violence.  Such vendettas continue where family bonds are strong and the rule of law weak.

discipline vs. punishment--the former refers to treatment that brings someone under control or imposes order upon them; the latter to retributive (meaning paying someone back) treatment that involves suffering, pain or loss. Discipline is designed to correct, reform or rehabilitate, punishment to penalize for wrongdoing.

divine or cosmic justice--justice administered by God, either now or in a judgment made after one's death, or by karmic forces.

honor and vengeance -- the word honor can be linked to one’s reputation, public esteem, keeping one’s word, or ethics -- or it can also be tied to vengeance. In this traditional sense, honor can be as thought of as the desire to publicly avenge insults or right wrongs. It can be particularly valued in societies or subcultures that are otherwise beyond the reach of practically effective law enforcement. Even in modern settings with well developed criminal justice systems, turning off the powerful lust for revenge emotion can be difficult if not impossible for many individuals.

intractable conflicts -- conflicts that are particularly difficult to resolve because they involve complex issues, communication difficulties, and deep-seated, often unacknowledged differences in worldviews. The people on opposing sides often feel threatened by the other side -- indeed they may feel that their sense of identity, cherished beliefs or way of life is being attacked. Besides involving conflicting worldviews, typically such conflicts also involve material goods, resources, or involve some concrete real or potential impacts on people and their environment -- impacts that are threatening.

jealousy -- fearing loss of either the exclusive attention and devotion of a person, or some status or possession , anxiety develops, followed by intolerant hostility directed toward the rival who is perceived to be the threat.

jihad–an Islamic term, linked to religious duty, which seemingly has two meanings: 1) spiritual (greater) jihad: refers to striving in the way of Allah, promoting Islam, fighting injustice, and nonviolent religious struggle;     2) (lesser) jihad of the sword: holy war  against the enemies of Islam aimed at defending and expanding the Islamic state.

justice -- implementing what is just, defined in various ways as being reasonable, proper, lawful, right, fair, deserved, merited, etc. For some, justice is intimately connected with fairness, a connection with three dimensions: equal treatment, the degree to which exercising freedom and liberty is to be allowed, and reward for contributing to the common good.

law: civil vs. criminal--the former refers to the means by which individual rights are protected, the latter with offenses that harm (or potentially could harm) the entire community. In civil cases the responsibility for demonstrating harm and seeking remedy lies with the individual affected; in criminal cases the state must pursue violators and seek remedy--which may be imprisonment.          

law: private vs. public--the former involves relationships between individuals (including corporations), the latter with issues involving the state and welfare of society (including penal law, and regulatory statutes, etc.)

lawsuit--a comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual or legal entity seeks a legal remedy.  Such legal action is initiated by the plaintiff who complains (petitions) that he / she / it has been harmed / suffered a loss by failure of the defendant to act in accordance with the law.

obsession -- an idea, feeling or emotion that persistently haunts or disturbs one’s consciousness and leads to what becomes, either through its repetition or otherwise, inappropriate, unreasonable behavior. Many obsessions are beyond willful control, even with the recognition of their inappropriateness.

reciprocate -- to give or take mutually based on past encounter;  to repay 

resentment--a feeling of anger and displeasure due to an insult suffered that is felt to be wrong, mean and unjustified.

restorative justice--in focusing on crime / wrongdoing as something that the offender does to another individual or the immediate community, not to the state / bigger society, rather than seeking more traditional retributive justice, solutions are sought that respect victims, require offenders make restitution to them, repair damage done and rebuild relationships.

retributive justice--offenders are punished in proportion to the amount of harm their offense causes, or to the amount of unfair advantage they gained with their wrongdoing. Those responsible for administering it need to decide who should be punished, why, and in what manner. 

shame -- a state of mind characterized by belief that one has acted dishonorably or ridiculously and that other people are also aware of these actions.

shame leading to vengeance -- if a person has been shamed, had self respect, sense of honor, pride assaulted, or for males, manhood attacked, if the assault has been grave and the wounds deep, then sometimes the only way the person can restore a sense of self esteem and standing in the tribe or community is by seeking vengeance.

transformative justice--rather than imprisoning and punishing, it focuses on educating and transforming offenders and correcting the root causes / societal conditions behind offenses. In a broader sense it provides an opportunity for healing / peacemaking that victims can also sometimes benefit from.

vigilantism--a sort of mob justice that results when people take the law into their own hands. This can result if there is a perceived gap between crime and punishment.  

  Contrast Worldview Themes #17A and #17B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

anger, constructive expression of--Expressing anger constructively, being objective, blaming or not blaming others as appropriate, but maintaining self control and avoiding furious rages can be a real challenge. Before such expression, its goal--often to affect behavioral changes in a person, persons, or institution deemed responsible--should be clearly formulated.  If individuals with whom the angry person has an ongoing relationship are involved, good communication and choosing one's words carefully in expressing anger are important.  Use of "I statements," of the form "I feel or felt _____ when you do or did _______ ,helps others empathize with you. The degree to which a person can express anger constructively provides an important measure of emotional maturity. 

conflict resolution -- the act or process of settling or making an effort or attempt to settle a conflict, that is, a situation or disagreement characterized by tension, antagonism, and sides whose motives, purposes, and intentions seem totally at odds and perhaps irreconcilable. The process can involve informal discussion or a formal procedure with rules and mediator(s).

empathy -- concisely it refers to “fellow feeling” , that is imagining that you are in the other person’s shoes and experiencing his or her feelings, struggles, etc.

evil, the problem of -- this problem has plagued philosophers at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Epicurus (341-270 BC) appears to be the first to consider it at some length. Simply put, it has two aspects, one religious, one secular, that can themselves be stated as questions, First, why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow evil to exist in the world? Second, how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts -- won’t fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc) just result in more evil? Those who embrace non-violence, forgiveness, and oppose capital punishment basically feel that good can not come out of evil. Others argue that if evil is left unchecked and unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.

forgiveness--the decision and process of ceasing to feel resentment towards a person for something they did to you and letting go of thinking of revenge or calling for restitution.

forgiveness and religion--most of the world's religions teach lessons connected with the importance of forgiveness.  Buddhists and Hindus learn that harboring resentment and thoughts of revenge is bad karma.  Christians learn "The Lord's Prayer" with its "Forgive us our debts (trespasses), as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us)", and recall Jesus' admonition to "turn the other cheek." In the Qu'ran, Moslems read "Keep to forgiveness and enjoin kindness". In the Torah, Jews are told, "You should not take revenge or bear a grudge."

gratitude and reciprocity -- according to biologist Robert Trivers, the amount of gratitude we feel and accordingly our desire to reciprocate is based on our perception of the costs and benefits of the original act that someone else took for which we are grateful. We are most grateful when this act helped us a lot and cost whoever took the action a lot.

humility -- or being humble. According to Alan Morinis this involves “limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others. Weaving humility into relating to other people means valuing an orientation that proclaims, “I don't have all the answers and I want your contribution.” Embracing humility, according to Gary Zukov, means embracing the “harmlessness of one who treasures and honors and reveres life in all its forms”.

karma -- from the Hindu sacred text the Bhagavad Gita, “Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.” Western classical physics (in the form of Newton’s 3rd Law) includes the principle that for action (or force acting) there is a reaction (a reaction force, equal in strength but oppositely directed). An eastern version of this -- a “Law of Karma” -- might be cast as “Whatever you give to the world you receive back from the world”.

personal responsibility, accepting -- Before an individual can overcome some personal difficulty or solve a personal problem, he or she needs to acknowledge that the difficulty or problem exists, by saying something like, “This problem is mine and I must solve it”. In this context, taking personal responsibility means that you don’t ignore difficulties or problems, expect others to solve them for you, or shift the blame to others. In a family or social context, taking personal responsibility can mean voluntarily limiting your choices or restraining yourself for the good of the family, tribe, village, community or whatever. Richard Critchfield refers to this as “the freedom to choose self responsibility”.

reciprocity (or reciprocal altruism) -- in human interaction, the idea that one good turn deserves another, or that one should return a favor. Example: If you’ll pick lice out of my hair, I’ll pick them out of yours!”



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