A conversation I had with Bev last night brought to the fore an ethical and academic question that’s worth exploring, if only briefly. Bev asked me,

What is the difference between revenge and vengeance?

Bev is an intuitive, bright lass, and I’ve never put a solid label to ensuring that the ones I love are not harmed or hurt in any way. Including me. What a solid question, differentiating between revenge and vengeance.

The discussion blurred “The Force Awakens” into the background, and after about an hour of analogies – she said, “That analogy is imperfect”, prodding for more than an analogy . . . and I said, “By definition, all analogies are imperfect . . . that’s what makes it an analogy” – Bev dug in and said, “Stop trying to squirm around the question. What is the difference between revenge and vengeance?”

For once in my life, I took pause, thought in direct definitions rather than exposition, and came up with what I believe is a satisfying answer.

Revenge is for personal, immediate satisfaction that is rarely lasting and never satisfying.

Vengeance is unserved justice.

It’s good having this clarification now. It lends direction and tact. It simplifies necessity. It assures proper implementation. It takes me to a favorite quote from Cesar Chavez, the perfect way to complete:

Those who lose their hunger for justice, ultimately lose their power.