“An eye for an eye”, “a tooth for a tooth.”
For centuries, this infamous passage taken from the Holy Bible has served as a license to kill for all those seeking revenge. It has also served as the moral basis for current crime laws, the death sentence in particular. Repaying evil for evil without fear of consequence, without feeling any guilt, shame, or even remorse, may seem to settle the score. However, although avengers may feel satisfied with their payback, the reality is that while they have added another tombstone to the graveyard, they have also left behind insurmountable grief and sorrow within the hearts of their enemies’ loved ones.
In light of the fact that revenge merely creates more devastation, it is therefore crucial that another interpretation of this scripture be considered; especially since the very same Bible firmly states in the first commandment that murder is a cardinal sin. Furthermore, if “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth” really meant to take revenge, it would be a direct contradiction to the other scriptures which instruct victims to “turn the other cheek,” to “love [their] enemies,” and to “forgive those who trespass against them.” Herein lays the apparent confusion. At first glance, it would seem like the Bible is delivering a mixed message, but a close examination of the word choice used in the initial scripture reveals its true meaning. The simple little word “for” indicates that something should be given, as in this is “for” you.
It is therefore safe to presume that “an eye for an eye” and “a tooth for a tooth” actually means that an eye or a tooth should be given to replace the one that was injured, lost, damaged, etc. In other words, victims should give their perpetrators a chance to right their wrongs. Over the course of history, there have been many cases where redemption has proven to be the righteous choice. A modern example illustrated in the recent film, ‘Seven Pounds” played by the actor Will Smith who seeks to redeem himself from the car accident he caused which took the lives of seven people, two of which were his wife and child. Realizing that no amount of punishment or even forgiveness could free him of his guilt, he finds himself compelled to commit suicide and donate various organs and body parts to others who are in desperate need of transplants.
Redemption is more than merely “turning the other cheek”; it is a noble act that calls for great humility. This virtuous ability while present in some is yet to be nurtured in others. So in the meantime, while society patiently waits for humanity to rise to their highest level of morality, the fate of the guilty will continue to rest behind the iron gates of condemnation. Consequently, for those who firmly believe that “revenge is best served cold”, should also be willing to accept that very same revenge when it is exacted against them for their own mistakes, innocent or intended. Avengers should also prepare themselves for the day when they too will suffer the same loss that they have caused, a necessary sacrifice that would only prove to be in vain.