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What's the difference between Justice and Vengeance?

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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:11 PM
Original message
What's the difference between Justice and Vengeance?
I would really like to hear other's thoughts on this.

I can understand punishment as an instrument of behavior modification. I can understand incarcerating people who are dangerous to others in order to contain the danger.

But at what point does our sense of "Justice" actually become nothing more than an angry desire for Revenge?
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. It's always vengeance. Every time.
Parking tickets right up to dismemberment.

Where do you draw the line?
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. Well, in the case of parking tickets,
I would classify that as behavior modification.

If you have a limited amount of parking spaces, you would want to encourage everyone to share them. If you just say, "please share" many people will ignore you. If, however, you say "if you take more time than your fair share, you will have to pay $x for it" then more people will be willing to share in order to avoid the fine. For those who still abuse their share and pay the fines, at least the money collected can be used for positive things.

So I wouldn't call such things as traffic laws and fines "vengeance" but I would call it "behavior modification" for the good of society overall.
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originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
14. Really? So locking a murderer away in prison for life is vengeance alone?
Isn't there an element of prevention? Doesn't that prevent the person from killing another?
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Generic Brad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. Vengence is justice with an attitude. n/t
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. I believe it's a subjective delineation, something that can't be a universal
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 01:19 PM by no_hypocrisy
standard.

Justice means extracting enough contrition and pecuniary repayment to stop its pursuit.

Vengeance/Revenge is another standard meant to punish the alleged victimizer and to serve as a message to deter future abusers. It goes beyond "justice" as it demands more than repayment on several levels.

It especially become subjective as there is a temptation to want vengeance but call it justice.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. You hit the nail on the head here:
"It especially become subjective as there is a temptation to want vengeance but call it justice."

This is what I want all of us to discuss and consider - when do we, as individuals and/or as a society, really desire vengeance but cloak it under the guise as "Justice"?

As for your definition of vengeance as "another standard meant to punish the alleged victimizer and to serve as a message to deter future abusers", I could even see that as a form of behavior modification since it is intended as a deterrent.

However, in the case of the Death Penalty as one example, the number of so-called "capital crimes" are actually higher in Death Penalty States. This would indicate that it is not a very good deterrent.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
4. Just acts are what I do to others
Vengeance is what others do to me.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. It is often ego-centric, isn't it?
Like almost everything else, it's usually more of an opinion than anything else.

And opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, and they all stink.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. agreed
Or it is like porn, I know it when I see it. :)
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
5. Justice - within the law? Vengeance - outside the law?
The remaining question is when the law is abused and when man thinks he is God and can ruin a life or take a life by misguided law or abandoned law - all under the guise of law.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. But when is a law a "misguided" law?
Yes, it is true that revenge that occurs within the law is considered justice - but it is still revenge.
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #10
20. It appears that guidance given Bush by Gonzales is misguided
for profit, control, cover-up, or for vengeance. When a judge winks at/to a lawyer it may be misguided and the wrong man is hung. When the CIA lawyers create massacres - it's politically midguided and yes, there is vengeance.

Just for the heck of it, I checked the dictionary for vengeance and revenge - two words stuck out at me - inflict and vindicative.

All can take place when law is twisted to do either?

Maybe, I meant 'wrongfully carried out' instead of misguided.

I think CP gets into another realm - that of soul, spirit, and religion (as in organized religion or cultural religion). Logic applies also. I believe to take another's life, denying them the right to make things right in their soul before a natural death is supreme arrogance and supreme God-uppance.

I think the law and the soul have to be considered separately, then together to find an answer. By my means, the soul is affected with revenge/vengeance by infliction and especially by vindicativeness whether man-made law is considered or not.
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dave_p Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
6. here's mine
Justice is for all and equally applicable to all, and is informed by a common sense of right. Vengeance is the rest, except when the perpetrator has no immediate loss to avenge: then it's plain murder, persecution, victimization or hate crime.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. What would you consider a "common sense of right"?
If, for instance, the majority of people in a society decide that if an unhappy wife cheats on her husband then the husband can kill her, is that Justice?
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. Please allow me to restate my prior post with an addition.
You have an objective standard of justice wherein we have a certain allocated amount of contrition extracted from a perpetrator who has hurt a victim. Hence, you have laws, statutes, regulations, police power to execute those standards, and courts of law to enforce those standard. For example, to use your example of adultery, we have divorce court wherein a wronged party can extract symbolically punishment by being awarded or denied money in a settlement. This is done to prevent further harm being propounded as revenge for the original harm. And it's universal as it applies to all individuals in this situation.

On the other hand, you have a subjective standard of justice, where as a victim, you believe the abuser has been sufficiently been held accountable for his/her actions and you both can move forward without the feeling of a perpetual "it's not enough" attitude and animosity. A court of law can't give that to you. You have to accept it on your own terms.
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dave_p Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #9
21. Note...
I said "equally applicable to all". And that's not just a gender issue, I believe marital status should have no legal standing, though having children should involve obligations. So if she had the same right, it's justice on one level, but not particularly good justice.

It's a good point, though - the infidelity may be victimless, in which case there's no occasion for justice in the sense of righting or punishing wrongs. If such an infidelity were used to humiliate or injure the spouse, most jurisdictions would take emotional suffering into account.

I was thinking of "common" to us to the greatest extent, but gaining universal acceptance of such norms is a delicate business. In fact until recently we weren't doing too badly, considering the chasms to be bridged. I fear these 6-8 years will cost us more than we imagine.
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mazzarro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
13. These basically summarize my view
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 01:50 PM by mazzarro
I found these online and they are more or less what I am in agreement with on this issue.

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/drivingissues/1127331115.html
David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
Revenge or vengeance is retaliation against a person or group in response to perceived wrongdoing.
Although revenge may superficially resemble the concept of making things equal, revenge usually has a more injurious than constructive goal. It involves the vengeful wish to make the other side go through what one went through or otherwise to suffer severely.

www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-17168.html
FZ+ 03-27-2004, 11:30 AM
Justice: Quality of being righteous. The law.
Whose law? What is seen as fair and just by one party is not just to the other. We usually require justice to fit a number of criteria:
1. Closure. Justice should be final, without a repeating cycle of vengeance.
2. Healing. Similarly, justice should result in something positive overall.
3. Deterrence. Something to encourage the event never to happen again.
4. Order. Justice should be according to a set code - there must be consistency and reliability to justice.

Stevo 04-08-2004, 11:59 AM
Traditionally, we have the following motivation for punishment of criminals:

1: Deter other would be criminals.
2: Rehabilitate the offender.
3: Keep society safe by removing criminals.
4: Satisfy psychological needs of the victim.

Yes, justice is about being righteous, and is the law. That's begging the question.

Justice is an artificial concept in the sense that it is a concept of humanity. But it is natural in the sense that it grew out of the need for survival and social order. Ultimately, justice is defined by its function, not by what it should be.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. EXCELLENT! Thank you, mazzarro!
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 02:09 PM by johnaries
I want to emphasize what you said in conclusion, because I believe all DUer's and all of socety should recognize it and take it to heart:

"Justice is an artificial concept in the sense that it is a concept of humanity." So true. "But it is natural in the sense that it grew out of the need for survival and social order." Yes. Again, so true! "Ultimately, justice is defined by its function, not by what it should be.

And I can agree with the posters on the function(s) of Justice (I have combined the 2 postings you listed):

1. Closure. Justice should be final, without a repeating cycle of vengeance.
2. Healing. Similarly, justice should result in something positive overall. Satisfy psychological needs of the victim.
3. Deterrence. Something to encourage the event never to happen again.Deter other would be criminals.
4. Order. Justice should be according to a set code - there must be consistency and reliability to justice.
5: Rehabilitate the offender .
6: Keep society safe by removing criminals .


The execution of Saddam has spawned many threads about the execution of Saddam in particular and Capital Punishment in general. I encourage all DUer's to consider your post in these discussions.

Thank you, again!

edit to add: I also encourage everyone to consider this statement on Vengeance that you provided, as well:
"Although revenge may superficially resemble the concept of making things equal, revenge usually has a more injurious than constructive goal. It involves the vengeful wish to make the other side go through what one went through or otherwise to suffer severely."
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. I'll take # 5 - rehabilitate and add that I believe the soul is involved
and man needs to allow another man's soul to rehabilitate over a natural life, by not taking a life, by not playing God. By not upping God/higher beings, whatever. By not short curcuiting a 'rehabilitation' in an eye for an eye manner, much less to rejoice in it.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #23
38. Would that not be why
the Bible says something to the effect "Vengence is MINE, sayeth the Lord", and al Muntaqim, one of the 99 Names of God in the Islamic tradition can be translated as "avenger"? The idea in both cases is that vengence should not be in the hands of humanity but that to set things right with the individual soul takes God, Who sees and understands all things.
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 09:49 PM
Response to Reply #38
40. Exactly! And, hopefully, it may also be found in the teachings or
writings of other beliefs?
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
15. When "justice" comes via a want and not a need, it's vengeance.
It's about ego and emotion.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
17. In the eye of the beholder
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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
19. If you are taking joy from the misery of another
then it's vengeance.
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
22. I STRONGLY recommend you search out the books of Rene Girard.
My favorite is Violence and the Sacred, but most of his center on the subjects of vengeance, justice and how the latter is important to the stability of community. It's a very complex issue, and Girard does a better (and imminently READABLE) job at attacking the subject than anyone else I've ever read.

I cannot recommend this highly enough; if you have genuine interest in the subject, get one of his books.
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. There is a site devoted to the Girard school of thought...
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 03:40 PM by madmusic
Maybe you already knew of it...

http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/

It is a bit esoteric and difficult for me to grasp overall, but the essence seems to be that when society is in a crisis it seeks a scapegoat and through the scapegoat stress is relived and all is back to normal. If I understand correctly, Christ's Crucifixion was a revealing of this process and the Crucifixion exposed the ruling elite's manipulation of the masses via a scapegoat.

From the site:

Ren Girard is well known for his critique of the imagery of sacrifice. As he reads religious symbolism and the rituals that present and enact it, these constitute ways of simultaneously commemorating and masking the real collective violence and victimization that gave rise to human society. His Violence and the Sacred argued forcefully for the universality of this fundamental cultural force: "All religious rituals spring from the surrogate victim, and all the great institutions of mankind, both secular and religious, spring from ritual. . . . It could hardly be otherwise, for the working basis of human thought, the process of symbolization, is rooted in the surrogate victim" (306). As a counterforce to the general pattern of religion, Girard went on to argue in later studies, the prophetic tradition in Israel, culminating in the story of Jesus of Nazareth, gradually disclosed these secrets "hidden since the foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35, the epigraph of Girards Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World). This revelation, however, was more than its recipients could bear, and they soon buried it again under a "sacrificial reading" that interpreted Jesus death not as the unmasking and exploding of the victimizing mechanism but as itself the ultimate satisfaction (and confirmation) of its exigency. In Things Hidden Girard identifies the Epistle to the Hebrews in particular as the fountainhead of this sacrificial misreading of Christianity.

http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap1101/webb.htm

EDIT: crucifixion
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. Thanks, I wasn't aware of that site.
Just to parse some words for anybody who reads that excerpt too quickly, when they say that he argues for the universality of the idea of the scapegoat, he's really not advocating for it; in fact, much of Violence and the Sacred examines how completely fucked up a society gets when the scapegoat concept goes horribly wrong (and ergo, moves from justice to vengeance, just to get us back to the OP topic).

It's deeply fascinating stuff--I agree with Girard that we seem to be hard-wired for this; it's how we as a thinking, caring society deals with that hard wiring that determines how successful we'll be as an enlightened society.

I look forward to exploring that site in detail.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Thanks to both of you! I will check out Girard. nt
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. Thanks to both of you! I will check out Girard. nt
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:44 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. There is a good summary a little later...
In Girards interpretation, the secret "hidden since the foundation of the world" referred to in Matt. 13:35 (and Luke 11:50-51)--and alluded to, of course, in his books title--was the founding role played in all human enterprises by the mcanisme victimaire (victimizing mechanism) of scapegoating, which is itself an outgrowth of mimetic desire. Mimetic desire is a deeply rooted tendency in human beings to imitate the desires of others. This eventually leads to mimetic rivalry and mimetic conflict--not only because to desire what another desires, in a world of finite resources, will inevitably lead to conflict over the same objects of desire, but also because even in a world of unlimited fungibility it would still be precisely our rivals object we would desire and not even a perfect equivalent would satisfy us. The victimizing mechanism is both a further development in this process and also, in most societies that have developed historically, the solution to the crises it generates. To explain the logic of Girards idea very simply:

# Since mimetic desire is a fundamental trait of human beings, people will inevitably fall into mimetic rivalries and these will spread like wildfire, especially where no system of traditional restraints and boundaries has been developed or where such a system has broken down.

# When these circumstances (lack of an effective system of restraints) prevail, the mimetic conflict will multiply until it threatens to destroy the entire society in a paroxysm of violence.

# At this point the victimizing mechanism will be triggered by the same mechanism that started the trouble to begin with, namely mimesis. Some individual (perhaps someone with a limp, or with noticeable racial differences, or with non-conformist ideas) may attract the attention of several others who will gang up on him, and others will also be drawn to join them by the mimesis of their violence.

# Those drawn by mimesis into such shared hostility to a common victim will experience among themselves, in place of their earlier rivalry, a new unanimity and fellowship.

# But the peace that proceeds from this is inherently fragile: new rivalries may develop and threaten the group--until once again they seek a new common scapegoat.

# Or, as the ancient Israelites did, they may forswear intra-group violence and restrain themselves from mimetic rivalry by adherence to a Law deemed transcendent. And they may reinforce their loyalty to that system of restraint by instituting ritualized commemorations of the original collective victimization, i.e., ritual sacrifices, to remind them of its originating, life-giving effects while protecting them from having actually to repeat it in all its dangerous reality.

# But such a system of the control of violence is far from perfectly effective, especially because it masks the reality of the whole complex of mimetic desire, rivalry, and victimization. New crises therefore continue to arise and call for new victims.
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. That's an excellent summary.
Have you read his books?

Part of what makes Violence so readable for me is that he uses literary and sacred texts to illustrate his theories (and probably explains why it was a go-to text so often for me in grad school). I get rather fervent about recommending Girard, because I think he's really onto what makes us tick as a society--any society, all societies, both historical and current.
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #31
39. Yes, Tobin Siebers indtroduced me to him...
Through his The Mirror of Medusa, from the Preface:

"We seem to have reached the conclusion that primitive man already possesses the mental sophistication that we like to claim for ourselves. We have not, however, examined the opposite perspective that modern man may also apply the kind of superstitious logic long associated with primitives. The purpose of this book is to advance a literary and anthropological theory that comprehends the role of superstition in both archaic and modern societies. What is missing in the study of superstition today is a theory that conceives of superstition as a universal human activity."

A Google for Siebers found the Anthropoetics site, and I since bought Girard's The Scapegoat, but have yet to finish it and will do so now. It is a fascinating subject but, frankly, I became disillusioned after realizing revenge, as self destructive as it is, is too hardwired both individually and culturally to overcome. The elites need it too much and will kick Toto every time he tries to pull the curtain away.

Thanks for the reminder and for the incentive to finish The Scapegoat.
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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. Hmmm, doesn't this help explain much of the conflict in the ME?
Not US involvement, but the conflicts and ancient rivalries that have been going on for generations even before the US existed?

And all sides seem to cloak their desire for vengeance in the name of God's Justice.

Very interesting.

But again, I am not attacking their religions, only how good, peaceful religious views can be perverted by individuals or groups to justify injustice.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
24. Justice is Divine, vengeance is human
Think about it -
You are hurt by a criminal. Your lover is raped and killed.
It is human to seek vengeance, kill the criminal, kill his lover, make all that he cherished hurt. This is human.

To forgive, and have faith in God to be just, well that is divine.

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johnaries Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #24
30. I would rather view this from a soceital pov,
Not a spritiual one.

Hasn't there been plenty of vengengeance in history carried out in the name of "God's Justice"?

I'm not attacking your personal spiritual pov, just pointing out that such a pov has been greatly abused in the past.
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mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. yup. "God is With Us" - rallying cry of the Nazis
I have faith in God. If my faith was unwaivering, I would only seek justice. Being human, I often feel the need for vengeance.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
33. Justice and Vengence
Justice requires, I think, a clearing of the air--bringing to light all that is known about a given matter. When justice is enacted, the final outcome is unknown until all facts are given light and considered.

Vengence, if anything, makes matters worse by suppressing facts and information or merely brushing them aside to get to an outcome that is pre-determined.
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Little Star Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 04:05 PM
Response to Reply #33
36. .
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
34. When we have a god complex
and decide that we are the instruments of justice in the universe, instead of holding up "justice," "fairness," as an ideal to personally strive for, and to work towards in our communities.
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ecstatic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
35. Justice is supposed to protect society; Revenge usually appeases one individual
Justice is supposed to be rooted in fairness--a correction for something that is clearly wrong in the eyes of society.

Revenge, on the other hand, may not be rooted in fairness--it could be rooted in jealousy or delusion. For instance, if someone "steals" another woman's man. The woman left in the cold may successfully carry out revenge by killing both her ex and his new lover. However, is that justice? No. Her man had every right to move on, assuming they were not even legally married.
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