According to http://dictionary.com, revenge can be defined as “to inflict punishment for”. This definition implies that revenge is a routine, healthy occurrence; humanity as a whole needs revenge in order to uphold society’s general code of ethics. An example of revenge is that somebody drives a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and for revenge, the government revokes their drivers’ license. This is not an act of vindictiveness, this is simply done to keep other citizens safe. By most peoples’ standards, this is not revenge at all, because it is not particularly malicious, it is simply paying the price for wrongdoing.
However, it is revenge on the person who lost their license. Another example of revenge is this: Two boys are playing a game at their school’s playground. One boy wins the game and starts cheering, the other boy gets angry and punches him in the mouth. This also fits the definition of revenge, “to inflict punishment for”, however, the boy who won the game did nothing wrong to anybody – except the boy who lost. It is possible that the boy who lost took the celebration as a taunt, got angry, and attacked the winner. These examples show that the argument of whether revenge is justified varies greatly, not so much depending on the situation itself, but on the perspective, a person has on the situation.
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Going back to the first example, a judge who might be deciding the appropriate punishment for the impaired driver would probably immediately decide that the driver deserves to have their license revoked and that the driver was stupid for driving under the influence no matter what his excuse. However, the wife of the driver [who, hypothetically, might have called him to come home immediately from the bar after the doctor notified her that her son was deathly ill with pneumonia]… She would probably have a very different perspective on the man’s case of impaired driving than the judge might.
As these examples show, the issue of whether revenge is justified varies greatly depending on the perspective of the people involved. It is almost impossible to be completely objective to anything, even judges who have had no prior experience with the individuals in their court are sure to have had some kind of experience with the factors involved in the case that influences their decision. However, it cannot be argued that every act of revenge ever committed, by anyone, was properly justified to someone… Or else it never would have occurred in the first place. Hence, revenge, in a sense, is always justified.
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