An Everlasting Debate – Which Is Better? Forgiveness or Retribution

When a person does an offensive act towards another individual or a group of people, it is often difficult for the victims to forgive the offender, mainly if the offense has been quite serious. Many offenders prefer retribution or revenge, to punish their offenders and teach them a lesson for lifelong. On the other hand, it was mentioned in the holy scriptures of all religions that it is divine to forgive and forget, which can lead to a peaceful mental state. So naturally, it is an eternal debatable topic that whether a person should forgive or take revenge on his offender.

Points to be considered in support of forgiveness

Renders mental peace – When someone forgives his/her offender; it is seen that person experiences immense mental satisfaction and a peaceful mind. It is even better if it is possible to forget the mistakes done by others, as it is said, “It is good to forgive; divine to forget.” A quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. states “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”. It brings peace to the mind of one who forgives, as he/she is no more troubled by suppressed anger. Hence, many great people and religious preachers ask common people to forgive their offenders wholeheartedly, to save their own spirits from this burning feeling of hatred.

Enhances self-confidence – It is said that it needs a lot of courage to forgive others’ mistakes. Hence, the ability of forgiving is considered a very powerful quality of one’s character. It shows that the person is matured enough to forgive the offenses of other people. This maturity also helps a person to handle the outbursts of their emotions so that no one is offended due to them. As we forgive others, we make ourselves mentally ready to turn a new page in the book of our life. Thus, our self-confidence increases to a great extent, after heartily forgiving the faults of other people.

Increases mutual compassion – Everyone is liable to make mistakes and offend even their nearest people. If we retaliate in the same way on the harsh words of our family members or friends, the relationships become bitter and eventually may come to an abrupt end. On the other hand, if a person chooses to forgive others for their rough behavior or any other offense, their mutual relationships may improve to a satisfactory level. The forgiveness from one side may arouse the lost affection in both, resulting to a stronger bonding between them.

Good for physical health – It is very harmful for our health if we seethe in anger towards our offenders, as that violent feeling may increase our blood pressure to a dangerous level. Hypertension leads to many other fatal ailments, like cardiac problems, renal failure, and cerebral stroke. If a person can forgive others with heart, he/she is likely to be relieved from these physical problems because of his/her peaceful state of mind. Therefore, it is seen that saintly people live a healthier life than others, as they do not hold any grudge towards their offenders and forgive them instantly.

Improves the society – When people prefer to forgive others instead of retribution in the answer of their offenses, the entire place is expected to remain peaceful. When we forgive others for their harsh words or deeds, we may also expect to be forgiven for our wrongdoings. Thus, society will become a much better place to live in, where there are lesser hatred and more love in the hearts of people.

Few arguments in favor of retribution

Discourages other offenders – When an offender is duly punished or rebuked for his/her offense, it may turn into a lesson for other people who might be interested in similar wrongdoings. People look up to the victim as a strong person, who can take care of him/her own self-respect. Thus, no one else will dare to mess with that person in the future and he/she will be saved from harm from other people. In this way, society will have a lesser number of wrongdoers, due to the fear of retribution.

Prevents future harm – It is often seen that the offender is encouraged if he/she is forgiven for his/her offense. This may prompt him/her to repeat the same offense again and again, even to other people in society. If he/she has to pay a price for the wrong deed, then only the offender will be scared and refrain himself/herself from doing the same thing again. Hence, some sort of punishment can only prevent the occurrence of the same offense and save the victim, as well as other people from the wrongdoing of that offender. This is the reason why criminals are tried and punished in the court of law in every country.

Rectifies the offender – The offender may feel sorry for his/her wrongdoing, only after he/she is mildly or severely punished for the act. Then it is expected that he/she will correct his/her character, as a result of which he/she may turn into a better person in the future. The punishment is an effective way to improve the moral and emotional condition of a wrongdoer. Hence, many people think that retribution to some extent is beneficial for society as a whole, as numbers of wrongdoers may be lessened in this way.

Establishes justice for the victim – When a murderer gets capital punishment or lifelong imprisonment, the family members of the victim feel that their desire for revenge is satisfied. Hence, many people think that retribution for a heinous crime is ethical according to the point of justice. In this way, common people regain their faith in the law and order of the country when guilty people are punished for their misdeeds. The society is also saved from too many criminals, who may otherwise make life more difficult for all.

In my opinion, it is best to stay away from your offenders than giving them another chance of repeating the same offenses. In this way, you do not need to take a harsh step of retribution if it is not at all possible for you to forgive your offenders. Those people are also saved from committing serious offenses that can harm them as well. However, it is said that we must be able to forgive others if we can seek forgiveness from God for all our sins. It all depends on the situation and nature of the crime, to decide whether it is best to forgive and forget, or seek retribution for that offense.

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