I know I have such an appetite, such a compulsion. When I observe on the news someone wronged, I do feel for them and their immediate needs. However, there are many others who have that kind of compassion. My focus turns toward the perpetrator, and I am hungry to pursue the vile creature and inflict a comparable suffering upon them.
I recognize the ultimate impact of following through on such compulsions and refrain. Following through would most probably bring injury and suffering on myself, and may inflict such on innocents caught in the battle. I may err in selecting my target, blinded by my zeal and my ultimate lack of necessary skills in locating and bringing to bay the true perpetrator. I may well trigger a chain of counter assaults by my targets, guilty or not.
Modern societies developed systems of justice to provide for the capture of criminals and miscreants, and to administer punishment deemed consistent with the nature of the crime. Such systems are less messy, more likely to be accurate in selecting targets of justice, and inclined toward being fair.
In a perfect form such a system would be satisfactory, to society and the victim of crimes. Were the perpetrators less criminally self interested, they would also recognize the punishment received as fair and be satisfied. Such a perfect form, of course, does not exist.
Vengeance is driven by emotion, and acting out vengeance has an emotional satisfaction. Most systems of justice are simply bureaucratic machines, devoid of emotion and as a consequence devoid of emotional satisfaction for the victim.
They are also costly, and time consuming. For settling many disputes they are probably fine. Insurance claims, matters of rights, that sort of thing. However, for deeply personal injuries, such as rape, murder, and many forms of theft, they can be far from satisfying.
A number of my short stories deal with vengeance. It is a problem I think on, from time to time. How to provide emotional satisfaction to victims when the matter is not just a technical crime, but an offense against the person. I recognize that a society must maintain a system of justice and to maintain such a system they cannot allow citizens to bypass the system for personal satisfaction.
However, is justice devoid of such satisfaction a true form of justice? A citizen denied such satisfaction will have a grievance against the system that failed them emotionally. Too much of that kind of dissatisfaction can erode a society from within. Yet to maintain order a society cannot be driven by the vacillating emotional states of the citizenry.
I shall propose a solution in a subsequent post, a solution that could exist within the existing system of justice, a solution that could provide more immediate emotional satisfaction to victims. However, I would like to throw this out there for discussion. I look forward to seeing where this may go.