It’s been one of those days: you’re late to work and step on your neighbor’s dog shit the moment you step off your stoop, your boss staffed you for a weekend project even though you’ve frequently expressed it’s your mother’s birthday, and your best friend told your other best friend that you missed her stuffy engagement dinner to get high and eat donuts with your two-week fling. As a social species, simultaneously slapping the daylights out of your neighbor, your boss and your backstabbing best friend is the first thing that comes to mind. However, Nobel Peace-Prize Nominee and political scientist, Gene Sharp denies the popular motto “and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” by suggesting the best form of revenge is to simply, live well.
Gene Sharp founded the Albert Einstein Institution of Nonviolence in 1983; he named it after the legendary physicist because Einstein was a well-known pacifist. This non-profit’s mission is to expose his studies of non-violent resistance in conflicts and to show a variation of alternatives. Sharp objectifies to convince others that non-violence is not only feasible, but also desirable. Followers of the institution look up to peacemakers like Gandhi and Dr. King, Jr., because nonviolence has proven to give the best results.
Since the beginning of time, social and traditional culture have impacted us humans to rely on reciprocity, “tit-for-tat,” if you will:
-He didn’t buy me a birthday gift this year so I feel compelled to do the same to him.
-Bosses are notorious of abusing their power; in a few years I will continue this custom.
In Sharp’s There Are Realistic Alternatives, he points out that conflict in society is inescapable and in some cases, appealing. Take a step back and analyze the social situation that your target has placed you in: No matter how many times you’ve communicated to your neighbor your repugnance of his dog’s excrements on the sidewalk right below your walk-up, he is testing your self-worth. The antagonist in your story is dependent on corresponsive actions (tit-for-tat, see?), it is up to you not to comply with their scrutiny and take their crossness with a grain of salt (and maybe a shot of tequila).
Also, a failure to understand where your opponent is coming from can be a sure fire recipe for a fist fest. Albert Einstein’s Institution suggests being cooperative in a non-cooperative way: convert your jerk of a neighbor to express his frustrations on a stress ball instead of finding creepy pleasure in seeing people step on dog shit, persuade your boss to staff you during another weekend, and compromise with your phony friend by communicating that she shouldn’t be such an instigating bitch. This will result in the best revenge for the reason that you didn’t exude violence and in doing so promotes living well.
To live well, instead of succumbing to the tit-for-tat game, your passive-aggressive wrongdoers will fall subservient to their pragmatic efforts and become conscious to the fact that without your cooperation, it forces a change upon the way they think. As you scrape the shit from the bottom of your shoe you decide to buy that dude a birthday present, it will not only make you the bigger person, but it’ll promote your living-well perspective. Working diligently on a Sunday morning as your family heads to your mother’s birthday brunch, you conclude you’ll break the mold and be a nice boss, don’t torture your minions, a better moral in the office results in better work.
Your life is going so well that you’re secure enough to realize revenge doesn’t matter. Isn't that better than a whimpy two-finger push and an ambiguous “I’m annoyed” tweet.