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by Margaret Fiero
The dilemma of deciding to seek vengeance or strive to forgive is one that has vexed humankind since the beginning of time. Those brave souls who keep up on current events know that it continues to be a hot topic. Game of Thrones, the highly addictive HBO series that just completed its third season, may be an epic fantasy set in a different world, while somewhat borrowing from Medieval history, but it does seem to encapsulate the perpetual problem with vengeance in the short clip featured here. It features beloved character Tyrion discussing with his sister, embattled queen regent Cersei, the lengths their family will go to avenge their enemies:
Tyrion: How long does it go on?
Cersei: Until we’ve dealt with all our enemies
Tyrion: Every time we deal with an enemy, we create two more.
Cersei: Then I suppose it will go on for quite a long time.
This clip provides a perfect metaphor for U.S. Foreign policy, but having to choose between forgiveness and vengeance is not unique to world politics. We have to decide between them on a daily basis in our individual lives. We may not (hopefully not) take part in decapitation or food sanctions, but our own inability to forgive and our propensity to take revenge can make life very hard for those around us. From the mundane to the major, humans have a tendency to remember the infractions committed against them. But everyone has the choice as to whether or not they forgive those who have hurt them.
One obstacle in the way of forgiveness is the idea that “revenge is sweet.” Any viewer of Game of Thrones can see that vengeance is usually more sour in the end. It takes a great deal of energy to develop and carry out vengeance. You also have to ask yourself, will you be satisfied by your vindication? Will your plan backfire? Considering how busy everyone is these days, it’s amazing any would be able to take revenge on another. Though it seems less malicious, just hanging on to anger can be harmful too. Think of forgiveness as something similar to the currently ubiquitous cleanse. A cleanse rids the body of toxins. Forgiveness can be a way to detoxify your brain of harmful gunk such as anger and bitterness, making you feel lighter mentally. You don’t even have to relay your forgiveness to injurious individual for this “cleanse” to be effective. Even if you just let go of that hurt in your mind, you can move forward by not having that inner hostility toward another weighing you down.
I hear occasionally of individuals forgiving horrific crimes against them, such as abuse by a parent, or having a loved one killed by a drunk driver. If such terrible acts can be absolved, then the rest of us should be able to forgive the relatively more minor misdeeds done to us. So don’t listen to Cersei – stop the vicious cycle and let go. By doing so, you might just helping to change the world as well. After all, as the saying goes, “peace begins with me.”
Brought to you by Just Mind, counselors in Austin who are working to provide their clients with the best care possible.