Someone wounds you, so you want to wound them back. With a harsh remark. By cutting them out of the next project. By putting the word out about them. It’s natural right?
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn puts it beautifully:
“Punishing the other person is self-punishment.
That is true in every circumstance.”
Marcus Aurelius—and indeed all the Stoics—believed that we were part of an inner-connected organism. That you couldn’t hurt one person without hurting them all. “What injures the hive, injures the bee,” he said. “The best revenge,” he said, “is not to be like that.” Meaning: When you hurt others, you hurt the group and you hurt yourself.
That’s not to say that justice isn’t essential—it was a core tenet of Stoicism. But that rush of anger we feel in response to unfairness or meanness and the desire to hit them back, to make them feel as we felt? That’s not justice.
And so when you feel it today, remind yourself: Hurting others hurts me. So I’m not going to do it.
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