Sunday’s Wisdom #434: Ending Vengeance

“Someone’s killed for killing another. Then that guy is killed for killing him. How is that kind of twisted thinking ever going to bring us peace?”
– Cagalli Yula Athha, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
Episode 31, “Grieving Skies”

Cagalli says this in the wake of one of the saddest moments in anime, a moment where two best friends divided by war have finally been pushed by rage and loss into genuinely trying to kill each other, and it seems one of them has succeeded. They tried, both of them, to avoid that awful confrontation, but in the chaos of battle, each of them has cut down the other’s comrades, something which they just could not let pass, and so they were driven to it.

That is the nature of war, where one wrong is done and the need for reprisal grows until two people who could easily have been friends in another life are stuck in a scenario where they must kill or be killed, or see their friends killed. It’s a hellish mess.

Now, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: it is integral to civilization that when one person kills another, or harms them in other ways, there must be severe repercussions. Otherwise, there is no justice, and a society without justice is doomed.

But war… war is something else entirely.

War is almost always brewing in the form of tensions and pressures and movements that build for years on end, but it almost always begins officially with a single inciting incident, often some tragic event. With the first drop of spilled blood do people cry for retaliation, for justice, for the enemy’s complete and absolute destruction. Ancestral feuds claim more and more lives, and each life taken renews the hatred and the thirst for blood, until the original cause of the fighting is lost in an unending recitation of who the other side killed.

No words can capture the pain of losing a loved one, nor of knowing they were willfully taken by someone who still walks free and breathing, entirely unpunished. I do not dare pretend that I can even begin imagine such agony, not in any way that truly comprehends. I can speak of it only as a largely distant observer, but even then, I know that it consumes. That is the danger of it: that it consumes oneself, one’s life entirely, and all of one’s loved ones as well.

Thus, I do not, in any way, mean to say that murderers should go unpunished, or that wars should not be fought to put right what has been made wrong. I mean to say only that there comes a point when it must stop. The bloodshed must end. It must be made to end. We must, at some point, say, “This is enough, and too much.” Simply because killing someone who has killed someone else just makes for one more person who someone on the other side believes needs to be killed for killing them.

There is no hope for peace without sometime, somehow… letting it go. Stopping. Refusing to spill blood for blood, no matter how much it hurts. Choosing the path of, “No more.”

To force the cycle of vengeance to end, those on opposite sides must forgive each other for past hurts, or at least learn to live together.

This entry was posted in Anime and Cartoons, Sunday's Wisdom and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Sunday’s Wisdom #434: Ending Vengeance

  1. Pingback: Sunday’s Wisdom #436: Peace is Not Given | Merlin's Musings

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