This I Believe

Thomas - Denver, Colorado
Entered on May 5, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: forgiveness
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

If someone has wronged you in some way, then I’m sure you’ve experienced the urge to get revenge on that person. Of course, we don’t think of it in such a dark way. No, we just change the word ‘revenge’ to something a little nicer, like ‘getting even’ or ‘getting square’.

It happens every day. Someone at school trips you and you drop your books. So later in the day, you trip them right back, and then we say those three little words that supposedly make everything all better. “Now we’re even.” How exactly does that make it better? We’ve all heard the term, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”, and yet we insist on getting even with each other. I believe that part of the reason is that we (as people) are so self-conscious about ourselves. If someone were to get tripped, they would feel humiliated. They feel that they must trip that person back to show that they are not completely powerless. At this point they think that they’re even, and the whole situation will just fade away. But instead, it snowballs. Each person doesn’t want the other to get the last shot, so they keep taking shots at each other until someone gives up or until someone intervenes. Of course, this doesn’t happen with everybody. Most people are mature enough to either laugh at themselves, or just drop it without stooping to a lower level.

A personal example is from a year or two ago, when me and a couple of buddies were having a snowball fight, and before we started we had agreed not to hit anyone in the face. But during the fight, I misjudged my aim and hit one of my friends in the face. I apologized and went to see if he was alright, and he said he was, so I just went back over to my side. This friend, however, was short-tempered, and not one to let go of things like that easily. We resumed our battle, and after a while I was hit in the face with a snowball. It was so cold it made my face numb. I wiped the snow off my face and my friend said in a mocking tone, “Sorry dude! It was an ‘accident’!” then laughed to his friends. I said, “Alright, you hit me back. We’re even, so drop it.” But wouldn’t you know it, another snowball from him hit me in the face. Fed up, I walked over to him, we traded expletives, and before I knew it, we were punching each other. Our friends eventually dragged us away from each other, but not before we had exchanged a couple good blows. Tasting blood, 2 of my friends helped me up, and I washed my cuts inside. From this I learned that some people aren’t content with just getting even. They don’t consider it even unless they get a reaction, and my friend was obviously trying to pick a fight.

I also learned that two wrongs really don’t make a right. There’s no way to replicate the exact thing someone did to you. It always has to be unfair, like “You hit me harder than I hit you!” or something. Two wrongs don’t make a right, they make even more wrongs.