Vengeance is Mine

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. — Romans 12:19

I shall never forgive him as long as I live!” She bawled at the judge, then took out a small, white hanky from her designer purse, unfolded it, and in trembling emotions, wiped away tears. “He ruined my life! How can I ever again walk down the street at night without fear of being robbed!”

Her attacker, the man who stole her purse—the black designer purse, not the red one she carried into the witness stand with her, sat quietly in the accuser’s box, head bent, avoiding eye contact with the judge.

Although the above scene is fictional, it’s analogous to cases of near theatrical drama played out in society today of people who feel they have been seriously wronged or insulted. All one has to do is listen to the evening news or watch popular television’s court dramas to realize that we’re obsessed with hate and vengeance—and our need for justice!

I don’t have any official, peer-reviewed studies to quote from to back my findings, but I’ve lived long enough and witnessed many cases where the incidents often were more drama than real injustices.

Although the following story is loosely based on a true story about a couple I once knew, I embellish highlights to emphasize some important points.

For the first year of their marriage, this couple were madly in love with each other. They were like two pieces of harmoniously locked Lego©. They had the same interests; they went to the movies together; they went shopping together, they even enjoyed mutual friends.

Gradually, however, the husband got involved in activities and interests that did not involve his wife. He even started drinking. Five years later, the husband finally approached his wife and asked for a divorce.

Call it rage, indignity, or plain fury, but the wife did not accept the husband’s request for a divorce lightly. She felt extremely hurt and humiliated and vowed that she would do everything in her power to see that that “unfaithful rat” (her husband) gets totally ruined and humiliated.

The husband finally got his divorce, although the court battle was steamy and expensive. The husband was willing to concede much of their joint property—just leave him with some dignity. But the wife would have none of that. The rat had to be completely ruined!

In her bitterness, what the wife did not realize was that the long-drawn-out court proceedings and lawyer fees not only financially ruined—now her ex-husband, but also ruined her: the lawyers were the new owners of her once-beautiful home, their Daimler sports car, and their once-joint bank account.

Long-suffering and patience are a virtue

If the wife would have been more patient and thoughtful, if she would have waited just two years, her desire to see her ex-husband ruined would have come true, naturally, with any effort on her part. And she would still be living in her beautiful home, and possibly still driving her Daimler sports car.

It ended up that the woman at the center of the reason for the ex-husband’s divorce changed her mind about marrying him, so in frustration and disappointment, he took to drinking—heavy drinking, ending up penniless and homeless.

Perceived injustice is everywhere in society. Who cannot find at least one person in their life who has committed an injustice to them? Unfortunately, to carry the anger of unforgiving injustice in your heart for the rest of your life only weighs heavily on your own health. It’s like drinking a cup of poison to hurt your accused. You end up hurting yourself!

The good news is, there really is justice. It’s just that we’re often consciously so busy carrying the burden of our injustice, we don’t see the complete picture. I’ve shown one example of justice in the above story about the husband and wife who, in the first year of their marriage, cared deeply about each other. But later, their marriage turned very dysfunctional.

Taking into consideration the complexity of almost any situation in life, it is difficult, if not impossible, to lay the fault on either person or an event. Negotiation, where possible, is a preferred option. However, like in the above situation where one member refuses to negotiate, it is often best to leave ‘justice’ in the hands of a Higher Power.

Creation is too complex to believe that life began through an unconscious series of events. To even consider such a possibility, my question then would be, who brought into existence the laws of physics and metaphysics to even give stability to life as we know it?

Thus, given the possibility that an intelligent ‘Super Mind,’ is behind creation, it would only seem logical that such this Mind—God, would care equally for both the antagonist and the recipient of the antagonism, and that metaphysical law would ensure justice prevailed.

To forgive a person for an injustice that they might have done to you is not to “let them off the hook,” so to speak. They are still responsible for dealing with their own actions. You are forgiving yourself for any anger you may have felt during the incident, thus clearing your own conscience and “leaving the details of justice to God.”

An Eye for an Eye

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind ——Mahatma Gandhi

The next time someone does something perceived as wrong to you, instead of flying off the handle and thinking of ways to get even—which seems so popular an attitude these days, why not be different and try a positive response, instead? Talk to the person. Find out why they replied so negatively to you. Was it something you said that irritated the person? Is the person just having a bad day? In short, try to understand!

Humanity is comfortable in a no-change environment. Change causes uncomfortableness, and uncomfortableness causes irritation and short-temperateness in people.

The earth, and even our entire solar system, is going through a rapid transformation: an evolutionary ‘upgrade’[i] [ii] that is causing problems in our psych. It is in our nature to be more comfortable with the same-old, same-old, rather than experiencing change.[iii]

Fortunately—or unfortunately for some who elect to stay behind, this rapid change is necessary for evolution’s sake, both for us, for our planet, and our solar system as we prepare for this transformation. If we let our guard down during these changing times, it can become habitual to shut down reason, unharness the motions, attach these undisciplined emotions to our tongue and let fly, come what may!

A good example of letting our emotions rule over reason is evident in the recent “Defund the Police” marches. Yes, there are problems with police butality, especially in Black communities. But, can you imagine our society without police to protect us from the criminal minded? Practical reason is the answer to this social problem, not unbridled emotion!

Historically, protests have brought about much-needed changes in the way citizens are abused by those in power. The problem is, hidden within the grained victories of the protesters, are buried the injured innocents that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while these protests took place. And correcting the wrongs suffered by the innocently injured can take generations to heal, especially if they are brushed aside or insufficiently dealt with.

Looted and damaged storefronts are one example of how an innocent person or business can suffer unfairly during a demonstration. Insurance, plus other costs and inconvenience caused by rioters, are only a minor example of what is wrong with this method of gaining justice by demonstrating against our perceived wrongs.

Lives are lost during riots. Between 1954 to 1968, 41 people were killed during the civil rights movement in the United States.[vi] And that’s just one small sample of human costs caused by riots, revolts, or disagreements.

Is there a more civilized, peaceful way of protesting for the oppressed to be heard? Yes, there is!

Non-violent protests are a far superior way to gain civil rights. This has been demonstrated through proven actions by famous leaders of peaceful protests like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Te Whiti o Rangamati, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the list goes on.[vii] So, we see, peaceful resolutions to our social issue happen, and are possible! Best of all, they don’t cause injury or damage to the innocent.

If we are serious about going along with humanity maturing, we have to abandon violent solutions to our problems.

Rather than rioting to solve our injustices, we need to take greater advantage of our court system. Just like the rioting slogan, “Defund the Police” is concerned only with one aspect of the problem: police violence, court trials can present to an unbiased jury or judge both sides of the argument, resulting in a more satisfactory solution to a problem.

The sign of an intelligent nation is reason through controlled emotions by the application of reason – Mayra Mannes

We also have to think about our future and the future of our children. Will we give in to the rioters and hot-heads and let them stain the good name of humanity by allowing them to solve their issues through rioting and violence? Or will we leave our children a legacy of superior, more just, and binding laws that will leave a legacy of comfort to them that reason, not violence, is the better road to a happier life?

[i] Cosmic Evolution: an Interdisciplinary approach: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~ejchaisson/cosmic_evolution/docs/fr_1/fr_1_site_summary.html

[ii] Cosmic Evolution by Eric J. Chaisson: https://www.physicscentral.com/explore/writers/chaisson.cfm

Lena M. ForsellJan A. Åström

[iv] Lemmings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

[vi] Civil Rights Movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Memorial#:~:text=The%20Civil%20Rights%20Memorial%20is,the%20Southern%20Poverty%20Law%20Center.

[vii] Leaders of non-violent protests: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance

Making Moonshine, and how to Hide it from the “Revenuers”

There is an interesting and colorful connection between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the many “entrepreneurs” of the day who turned to making moonshine to feed their family and entertain themselves during those depressive times. Later, we’ll get to the interesting part—what this story is mainly about the moonshine story. But, first, …

Let’s start with Canada and the “Dirty Thirties,” as they were referred to. They were called the Dirty Thirties because, along with the Great Depression that plagued the world at the time, the Prairies were also stricken by very dry and dusty weather conditions.

Let’s start with Canada and the “Dirty Thirties,” that plagued farmers at the same time the depression hit. The Canadian and American mid-west was experiencing a severe drought with accompanying sinister dust storms that gave the area its sarcastically descriptive name, The Dirty Thirties, or The Dust Bowl.

In the United States, they called it “The Great Depression.” The stock market lost close to 90% of its value. Approximately 11,000 banks failed, wiping out many depositor investments. Unemployment rose to 25% and average household wages dropped by 40%.[ii]

In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States and not only promised but pushed through 15 major laws during the first 100 days he was in office, the Social Security Act being one of the best-known ones, and he also founded the March of Dimes program. Route 66 became a popular route for Americans traveling west to California in hopes of a better future.

In Canada, it was a common sight to see empty railroad box cars filled with men traveling from Ontario to Alberta and British Columbia in search of work. I grew up on a farm in Southern Saskatchewan near an east-west cross-country rail line, and it was not unusual to have “migrant travelers” leave the empty rail cars and visit our farm, offering to work for a meal.

Like everyone else in the community, we had little money, and could offer no pay for labour, but we always had plenty of vegetables from our large garden and meat from butchered cattle and poultry, so we were happy to feed these hungry migrant travellers, and while they were eating, they would tell us interesting stories about depressive times in Ontario.

As can be imagined, an event like the Great Depression had an enormous effect on the mental, emotional, and physical lives of the people caught up in this trauma. Desperate times often called for desperate measures. Entertainment played a vital role in their lives, for it offered a means of escape—even if only temporarily, from the dreariness and pain of life. Dancing, moviegoing and social gatherings were especially popular, being the cheapest form of entertainment available and easiest to organize.

The price to buy liquor to ‘supplement’ the buoyancy of a party from a regular government vendor was out of reach for most partygoers, so people innovated: they made their own liquor; moonshine!

The government really hated moonshiners! It could be safely said that the government was more concerned about the loss of excise revenue from its normal imposed tax on the sale of liquor than it was in the welfare of its citizens. They doled heavy fines out to those unfortunate enough to get caught in possession of an illegal distillery, or ‘still,’ as they were more commonly referred to. To make it even more enticing for ‘snitchers,’ to inform on their neighbors, the government offered rewards of up to $200 to anyone reporting their neighbor to “Government Revenuers” who would then come and raid the distillery shutting it down. Remember, in those days, an average man’s non-unionized wage was $30 and $40 a month.[iii] A two-hundred-dollar reward for just picking up the phone and snitch on a neighbor was an attractive incentive! To make it even worse for the moonshiner, the police kept names of the snitchers a closely guarded secret so you could snitch in confidence and know that your neighbor would never find out who the ‘judas’ was.

The police targets were mostly farmers. Farmers had more ingenious methods of hiding liquor from snooping government revenuers than their city cousins did. One farmer I knew hid his ‘stash’ in a cattle manure dump next to his barn. Surely, no ‘revenuer’ would think of digging into a manure pile to look for illegal liquor! Good idea! And it worked for quite a while until, unfortunately, the neighbor who ‘squealed’ on the guy, also got to know of the hiding place, so part of his ‘information to the police’ included the location of the moonshine. Bragging to your ‘friends’ about how smart you are at fooling the cops wasn’t the best of ideas!

Lesson learned. Never brag, publicly, about how ‘smart’ you are. But it seems like many of us are slow in learning that lesson, because here’s another example of what not to do.

Whenever the police pulled into this farmer’s yard, the farmer would quickly hide the moonshine under the blankets in his daughter’s bed. The daughter would play sick for the occasion. When the police approached the bed, the farmer would, in an anxious tone, beg that the revenuers not disturb the girl since she was very sick and should not be disturbed. The police compassionately backed away from searching that area. This trick worked for several times until, again, the farmer was stupid enough to brag about how he fooled the “revenuers.” Naturally, the next time the police ‘called’ with a search warrant; they did ‘disturb’ the ‘sick’ daughter!

However, sometimes knowing the psychology of how police conduct their search—and what they don’t search, can prove helpful. This farmer really knew how to hide moonshine in the open, in plain sight of the police! He simply hide his ‘stash’ in the farmhouse attic among his wife’s empty Gem canning jars. As any connoisseur of good moonshine knows, 100 percent pure moonshine is crystal clear and, naturally, blends in perfectly among the clear, empty canning jars. Either it just didn’t dawn on the police how brazenly open, something could be hidden right in front of their noses, or they just didn’t want to bother to, singularly, examine every canning jar in the attic.

What a frustration! The police knew that this guy was one of the biggest moonshine distributors in the area, but even after several frustrating raids, each time they had to leave, mission unfulfilled! Although I knew all along where this farmer was stashing his moonshine, he never revealed to me where he was hiding his distiller, a very important piece of equipment in the making of moonshine. And not being able to locate the distillery was especially baffling and frustrating to the police. However, like his moonshine, I’m sure his distillery was also hidden in plain sight!


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_Canada

[ii] https://www.ducksters.com/history/us_1900s/great_depression.php

[iii] https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112032654953&view=1up&seq=935