grudges.

In this blog I’ve been posting controversial opinions; here is one that (hopefully) is more popular.

Definition

Before talking about a grudge, we should define it.

Let’s consult the dictionary!

As a noun:

a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.
Let’s jump down the rabbit-hole a little more; what does resentment mean?
bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.
Again, another big word. Let’s look at indignation:
anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.
So I think we can put it together like this.
a persistent feeling of anger or annoyance at a past insult or injury that is perceived as unfair.
And I particularly like this definition because it lines up with my philosophy on why people hold grudges, and what it does to them.

What and Why?

What do grudges do to people, and why do they hold them?

I feel like a large portion of grudges are held because people like being right, and fear being wrong. (Now that I think about it, this is probably why public speaking is one of people’s greatest fears.)

Letting go of a grudge means forgiving someone, which often requires putting yourself in the shoes of others. It does not necessarily mean you were wrong with your actions, but wrong about the other person’s intentions. And when the only feeling of control you may have over an interaction is holding that grudge, it becomes hard to admit “defeat,” or giving up the feeling of control you have. Consequently it becomes very relieving to let go of a grudge and give another chance, because it frees you from a burden (and grudges are large burdens).

What do grudges do to you? Time is eaten up by unpleasant thoughts about someone who you probably have no influence on. (Part of the staying power of grudges is that they are often hard to act upon.) Your relationship with said person is bound to get worse. (If you don’t have a relationship with said person and are mad at them for cutting in line/poor driving/etc, the grudge is even more petty.) Holding a grudge does nothing good for you, and plenty of bad.

The reason for grudges and their effects have already been well-documented; my two cents do not offer anything really special.

Forgive?

Forgiving someone or a group of people whose actions justify a grudge is often one of the hardest things to do. But as numerous examples make clear, letting go of a grudge can be very rewarding. I don’t mean merely mentally rewarding; it often leads to good consequences, or the avoidance of potential disasters. For obvious reasons, any examples I mention will be strictly historical or political (i.e. not personal), so apologies in advance if commentary is a lacks “authenticity”/emotion/etc.

This may be a sore subject even now, but I think the aftermath of the American Civil War is a great example of leniency coming from the victors leading to a positive outcome. For those not in the know, the Confederates could’ve (and by legal standards, should’ve) been tried for treason, and its leaders executed. But that’s not what happened; instead of focusing on inefficiently prosecuting Southern soldiers, the Northern strategy was to use leniency in order to focus on “nation-building.” Historians believe that this may have prevented the South from trying to break again or from majorly impeding the reunification process.

An example of when a lack of leniency and harsh punishments from the “winners” causing disaster is World War I. As a result of unfair punishments, the German population was able to be manipulated into accepting the atrocities of World War II.

In general, famous political bargains are also good examples of when reconciling a grudge leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Holding onto a grudge does nobody good; letting go of one has the potential to do good, or at the very least, prevent harm.

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