peace without revenge


In my recent post about the death penalty, a couple of comments suggested a logical reason for killing bad people is that it can help the families of victims of violence come to terms with their loss, and feel justice has been served. This struck me as odd. My instant reactions were:

  • Is base, instinctive revenge the only way to make families feel at peace?
  • Do all families feel this way?
  • Is this only a projected feeling that we imagine we would have if one of our loves ones was killed?

I’m not doubting for one minute that many families do feel this way. Every article I’ve found about the assassination of Osama Bin Ladin quotes relatives’ groups as feeling relieved he is dead and believing the world is a safer place.

But there is another side to this. The organisation Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights presents many stories from the relatives of victims who don’t feel the urge to wipe out the existence of the person who has harmed their loved one, but look for more thoughtful and logical routes to improving the outcomes of their grim situations.

  • Jo Berry actually works with the former terrorist responsible for her father’s death to promote peace and end the mindless cycles of revenge and violence. She believes the death penalty “does not assist the healing of the victim, but actually creates more pain and violence and delays the healing”.
  • Terry Green‘s brother was killed in the September 11th 2001 attacks. He says the death penalty “only promotes the acceptability of taking lives, a cycle which must instead be broken. We should not dishonor my brother by adopting the philosophy and means of his murderers”.
  • Marietta Jaeger’s 7-year-old daughter was kidnapped and murdered. She asked for the murderer not to receive the death sentence, and he later confessed to killing three other young people. She argues that the death penalty “make us become that which we deplore — people who kill people — a horrendous insult to the memory of all our beloved victims”.

This is just a very small selection of the stories available. Have a browse around at the link to the organisation above. There are lots of interesting stories, thoughtful ideas and insightful perspectives from people who have been through very traumatic experiences and have found peace without revenge.