They say revenge is sweet, and scientists have actually conducted brain studies proving that, indeed, it is. For many. But what makes people seek revenge on others? What innate, deep-rooted need is there to personally mete out some form of 'payback' by exacting revenge on others for some perceived wrong. The need for retribution goes back to the beginning of time, with biblical references to it in Exodus 21:23–27: "An eye for an eye". And though revenge may be sweet for the perpetrator (or perpetrators), it is momentary and accomplishes absolutely nothing.
Revenge can manifest itself in many different forms, from mudslinging and slander, to revenge killings, to most of the sectarian violence in the Middle and Far East. But what exactly does one gain, other than creating a never-ending cycle of violence, a cycle of retaliation that keeps perpetuating more vengeance, ad infinitum? Not a thing. And if you analyze most of the reasons for revenge, you will find that the bulk of them are cruel and unwarranted. At least at the outset.
For some, a vendetta against one person turns into a vicious game of how many people affiliated with that particular person can they 'bring down'. Innocents caught in the crossfire. Like a cluster bomb, that not only damages the actual target, but others within the projected target area. They are so consumed with rage and hatred that they will do anything to make themselves feel better, to partake of that sweet taste of revenge, regardless of the consequences or how many innocent people they harm. And regardless of whether they are justified or not. Ronald L. Shanabarger killed his 7 month-old son Tyler because his wife had refused to cut short her vacation cruise (prior to their marriage) to console him when his father died. "Shanabarger said he planned to make Amy feel the way he did when his father died. He married her, got her pregnant, allowed time for her to bond with the child, and then took his [boy's] life." So, in seeking revenge against his wife, he devastated not only her life and that of her extended family, but destroyed his own flesh and blood in the process. Then you have the 72 year old Czech man who shot and killed the Nigerian Consul (injuring the receptionist), because he had fallen victim to one of those Nigerian 419-scams. So, even though the Consul (and receptionist) were in no way involved in the scam, the Czech man felt entitled to seek retribution from innocents, because they so happened to be Nigerian. And what about all the people who have 'gone postal' , what morbid satisfaction do they derive by killing innocent bystanders? Then you have the pointless sectarian violence in the Middle East, where Muslims keep killing each other because they happen to be from a different sect. How meaningless and unjustified is that?
And slander and mudslinging can be just as destructive as revenge killings, by destroying people's lives through poisonous lies. The Duke Lacrosse players are just one of a plethora of examples. And even though most religions counsel against such things, people continue on that path of destruction, on a daily basis. Judaism says it best: "Slander kills three people: the speaker, the listener, and the subject," and is considered one of the most severe transgressions of all. As it should.
What most of these revenge-seekers don't seem to realize, is that whilst they are so busy trying to ruin other people's lives, they are destroying their own in the process, because for every action, in this world, there is a re-action. As you sow, so shall you reap. What goes around comes around. It is a law of nature.
There is an old Chinese Proverb that pretty much sums it all up: "When seeking revenge, bring 2 shovels".