I’ve been watching the final season of Game of Thrones, and the last episode was crazy. Daenerys Targaryen, driven by revenge, destroys the entire city of King’s Landing with her fire-breathing dragon. Not just Cersei and her army, mind you, but women and children too. It was brutal.
I’ve also been watching the most recent season of The Walking Dead, and the group is in an interesting place. They have defeated Negan and the Saviors, and are now trying to build a new world together. There’s a struggle between wanting revenge on the one hand, and offering grace and forgiveness on the other hand. Different members of the group are pulled in different directions.
I think the lesson I’m taking from each of these shows right now is that if you want to build something, you have to resist revenge. My guess is that Dany’s murderous rage will be her downfall. Sure, she won the battle, but what’s next? Who wants to follow a leader like that? She could destroy everyone with her dragon, but there might not be anyone left to lead.
In the same way, Rick and his group could have destroyed every last one of their enemies. But what would that have accomplished? They might have won the war, but what’s next? The ultimate goal is to try to live together in peace. That requires forgiveness, not revenge.
Move Toward Forgiveness
Forgiveness is difficult. We all have something inside us that longs for justice when we are wronged. If someone does something bad to us and we suffer, our immediate response is to want to do something to make them suffer in the same way. Eye for an eye.
But as Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” The cycle of retribution and revenge never ends. There’s no hope for peace. The only way to build something new and different is through forgiveness.
But forgiveness requires one party to take a risk and erase the debt. The person who suffered the hurt has to wipe the slate clean. This goes against our natural pull for retribution. But it’s absolutely necessary to move forward together.
What is one thing you are holding on to because of your desire to get back at the person who hurt you? What is one step you could take toward forgiveness? (Click here to read my blog series on forgiveness.)