Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Virtue of Resentment

One of my nursing-reads (what sort of boring people only read one book at a time?) is a battered paperback picked up for free at a garage sale entitled Foreign Policies of the Founding Fathers. It's intriguing if you like that sort of thing, which I do. Anyway, within it I came across a quote from John Adams:

"Resentment is a Passion, implanted by Nature for the Preservation of the Individual. Injury is the Object which excites it. . . . A Man may have the Faculty of concealing his Resentment, or suppressing it, but he must and ought to feel it. Nay he ought to indulge it, to cultivate it. It is a Duty. His Person, his Property, his Liberty, his Reputation are not safe without it. He ought, for his own Security and Honour, and for the public good to punish those who injure him, unless they repent, and then he should forgive, having Satisfaction and Compensation. Revenge is unlawfull. It is the same with communities. They ought to resent and punish."

This certainly doesn't seem to be a Christian perspective, yet there's some truth in it somewhere. If not appropriate personal policy, is it good foreign policy? And if resentment is not allowed, how do we ensure that evil does not go unchecked?

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