IOVI OPTIMO MAXIMO VINDICTA
(word by word) to Jupiter, the best and greatest, vindication
QUOD LICET IOVI, NON LICET BOVI
that permitted to Jupiter, is not permitted to the ox
– Latin Proverbs
I get bombarded with “love and light” messages and posts, particularly on the theme of “forgiving and letting go” of negative experiences, interactions and emotions as the path to happiness. Superficially, that seems like a lovely idea – but does it really work in a practical sense?
– ‘Negative’ emotions and how to use them, Kate Douchkov, Inspire Achive
Too often our laid-back country we are held hostage to the idea that ‘She’ll Be Right’, or a downright English notion that we should just wear a stiff upper lip in the face of our troubles. Inevitably life, or fate, or God, or the great absence of God… Life, laughs at such cliché. For all of us there comes a day when we are called to face the true depths of our humanity. To question our faith, if we even had any to begin with.
In these times, the platitudes offered by common-sense, pop-psychology or a pseudo-Christian subservience fail us. They hurt us. And when they do, they do it a lot.
I approve wholeheartedly of the sentiment in the above-quoted article in this regard.
Deep feelings can’t be dealt with so shallowly, they must be met with depth.
As someone that has spent many a day and month and year, perhaps even most of my life, overwhelmed by powerful emotions, I can only agree that finding a way to own, validate and deepen a sense not of lightness, but of darkness, has been my salvation. To say it’s been a positive experience would be a terrible understatment.
Finding a sense of indignation has been central to my recovery from my family, my work and so many disastrous romantic relationships.
It’s helped me to read backwards and around from the biblical Ezekiel 25:17, and the poetry of the warrior-poet Catullus. Extensive travel has been a great consolation… but–
Winning a few times has been the thing that brought me the strength, satisfaction, safety and … yes, joy … all the things that I have craved most of my life, and whose absence has brought me more suffering than the losses that I’ve had.
I do not forgive and forget. I’ve tried to ‘love so much I can forgive’. I’ve redoubled my will in memory of a dead friend. But, my conclusion at age 30 is that it is just not enough. It’s also not enough to react with a similar shallowness and respond to some common lightness with “that shit is bullshit.” The truth of the matter about ‘forgiving and forgetting’ is that it is in fact morally bankrupt. Of late I’ve taken particular and vocal issue with people that proffer the kind of laziness that amounts to soft cruelty. I neither forgive nor forget to move on. I wont be silent when anyone says to the suffering that they should bear their pain silently.
I’ve slapped fully armed soldiers in civil war zones for less.
My moving on has included a measure of revenge of a more traditional sort– No, scratch that. I’ve been rolling a word around my head– the Latin ‘VINDICTA‘ that I titled this post. I don’t get revenge, or even get that angry anymore. I seek vindication. I seek justice.
Here it is, for those that a faint of heart-
- Bankrupting a thief is not selfish
- Menacing a bully in court is not cruel
- Confronting an aggressor when attacked is not abuse
- Getting a rape-talking bouncer sacked isn’t something to be scared of
Quite the opposite.
For those that quiver at such statements, let me say this: vindication that transcends revenge can be more than a personal salve. It can be humbling for all directly involved, and good for society at large. If done just right, it is both humanising and civilising. Civilising in the fullness of the Roman sense of the word. That it makes citizens of us as we conquer our baser instincts. More than this, humanity has never moved forward without it. I do.
My point is simple and personal. It is this:
I am thankful for my darkness. I am blessed by my not forgiving. I am empowered by my not forgetting. I use my sufferings in exactly the ways that Kate describes in the article quoted at the top of this post. I draw strength and energy to help others from it. I find myself an advocate for all manner of people, in all manner of places because if it. And I recommend that you do the same if you too have suffered. Help both others and yourself.
More than a few of you that are reading this know that
I love helping.
I love feeling alive when I say
‘Good things don’t happen to bad people,
(and with a twinkle of eye
and a wink)
I happen to bad people.’
and this has become
for want of two better words