Thursday, June 22, 2006

Vengeance: What's the point?

Someone who made me really unhappy when I was a kid is dying.

The unhappiness was significant. I still feel effects from it today and I don't doubt it shaped my view of the world. The dying sucks. It is in a way not physically painful, but a process of watching one's body slowly break down around one. He has lost most of the use of his hands. He can barely talk and walking around seems difficult for him. Ironically, he countinues to manage to smoke somehow. I'd give him a year, tops, though I would have said that last year.

And I'm finding that the suffering I went through a long time ago and the suffering he's going through now don't have any relationship to one another in my head. I feel bad for myself as a kid and in some ways want to tell him off, but that would be a profoundly pointless thing to do at this juncture, so I'm not going to. I mostly pity him.

Watching this happen isn't fun for me. And part of me wonders, "why not?" Shouldn't there be some tiny satisfaction in knowing that he can only, for example, think hateful things and not say them? Shouldn't I be happy, just a little?

He did some good things too, perhaps my feelings are more complex than just a simple longing to get back at somebody. At the same time, when I think about him, I mostly think about the things that he did that sucked.

And it's weird. I've always been against the death penalty. At the same time, I thought I understood the father of the victim who wants to see the death of the guy who killed his little girl.

Now, I'm finding I don't understand it at all.



Joel Monka said...

I had a similar experience, and finally figured my reactions out. There was no pleasure or satisfaction because his current suffering was in no way related to his previous sins; it was not Karma, but just the blind luck anyone might have had. Had he been run over by one of his former victims, it might have been different- but illness happens to the good and the bad alike, and so looses any power to vindicate.

Anonymous said...

Darn, and we just thought you had risen above such things.