025~ Revenge is a swinging Pendulum
Updated: Jul 27
Well, standing in front of the devastated reconstructions in Berlin has opened my ability to seek answers and realize the inevitable suffering imposed on the citizens of Berlin, deserved or not. It has created an almost inevitable crack in my perception of how history has, in fact, progressed to this "discharge of violence," and like any discharge, it MUST have three points:
1. The discharging side, which is overloaded and needs to discharge.
2. The receiving side, which will be there to receive the overloaded discharge.
3. The void between them, which may be a location, a platform, or even time, where the tension cultivates and grows.
Zygmunt Bauman mentions in "Modernity and the Holocaust" that Jewish congregations throughout history in the Diaspora always (almost always) preferred negotiation over retaliation. Whether it was extra taxes, living in ghettos, wearing certain attires to differentiate from the gentiles, or keeping away from certain professions, as long as everybody could move on, there was never a price too high to pay. The problem with this, of course, is that it turns them into a clear target, establishing that they will always seek a settlement and never choose the 'end of the gun barrel' to resolve conflicts.
Being an ethnically divided group with different spiritual aspirations made it clear that money could buy them peace. Just like any large mass, there were always a variety of approaches, but the more radical groups never seemed to gain enough popularity to break the threshold and become a significant force. This started to change during the relentless persecution prior to the Holocaust and then, of course, during and after. It became clear that sometimes, one must fight back.
This approach has been adopted even more so alongside the great responsibility of running the new state of Israel, wanting to maintain long-awaited (2000 years) autonomous sovereignty. After two millennia, the sudden need arose to find a balance between the spiritual lifestyle and the earthly mundane tasks of governing a country.
According to this book, the trauma caused by the Holocaust has created a very strong overload on the victims' side. In response, they feel a strong need to discharge, and many things that could be settled through negotiation are immediately shifted to a violent outburst in an attempt to resolve conflicts violently. That is, choosing the end of the barrel instead of the tip of the pen for a settlement.
And we grew up in this environment and found justifications within it. It doesn't take much digging to find those justifications. It takes more to be able to slow the swing of the revenge pendulum rather than give it an extra push.
The Jewish persecution cycle
The victim can justify their aggressions (yet still manages to deny that the actions he takes turns him into the aggressor). By hitting innocent people and creating more circles of violence and casualties, new people join the polarity, some needing to discharge and some becoming victims, all while waiting for things to calm down, while others keep stirring the conflicts towards the next discharge.
Comparison is forbidden, even if the results of the turmoil back in World War II can really help us see the direction of things. We are forced to shut up, and that is exactly how the potential for discharge can grow inevitably. If we don't do everything we can to bring the pendulum as close as possible to a stop and just experience small movements, then the swing will continue to grow (it is being pushed hard these days as I look at the changes Israel is going through).
The solution, not final but as I see it, lies in the void—the platform on which it all happens (the place where we are not allowed to compare or bring wide scope stories, big or small stories that can de-escalate the turmoil). This is not to diminish the disaster but rather to approach it, understand it, be aware, be careful, and notice similarities, motives, and dangerous trends.
Like firefighters, we need to be able to identify which scorched places are to be left to burn down, unfortunately, and at the same time, make an effort to prevent anything around from getting sucked into those flames of turmoil. We need to find a way to let these conflicts arise and, as carefully as possible, let them simmer down. Continuously fueling them only keeps the chain of events going round and around in circles over and over again.