Scattered thoughts on revenge

Driving back from the northern cooler climes of Arizona, my husband and I saw three white people carrying signs outside a Walmart:

Rally for our police!

Support our police!

A woman with a smile on her face shook police-blue pom-poms at passing cars as if inviting them to a tailgate party.

Three days after the shooting of Dallas police.

One day after the shooting of Philando Castile.

Two days after the shooting of Alton Sterling.

And I heard Pirate Jenny (in the voice of Nina Simone, of course) in my head –

As they pile up the bodies, I’ll say – that’ll learn ya!

A conversation I had recently with a well-regarded traumatologist who has spent years traveling to hell and back to ease the suffering of children abducted by Boko Haram and people brutalized by the Bosnian-Serbian conflict (among others).

We spoke of lions and elephants. When the lionesses kill a young elephant to feed their cubs, the matriarch of elephants gathers up her sisters and tramples the cubs.

She says research yields terrifying conclusions about revenge:

People who take revenge don’t suffer from PTSD in near the numbers as those who turn the other cheek.

Which leads me to the River Styx (for where else are we going but the Underworld?) –

Flowing around the land of the dead in ancient Greek cosmology, the River Styx, according to archetypal psychologist James Hillman, “whose name, ‘hateful’ or ‘hatred’…is the deepest source of the Gods’ morality, for on its water they swear their oaths, implying that hatred plays an essential part in the universal order of things.” (The Dream and the Underworld)

Blanche, you might fancy yourself better than the brutes, but life’s a Greek tragedy and we’re all playing lions or elephants.

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