A good friend told me something that made me smile. “You seem sweet and gentle, but you have a dark side I would not want to tangle with.”

They aren’t wrong. I have a long fuse. I much prefer to make peace than war, but when pushed too far, I don’t just go off. I go nuclear. I go zero-to-utter devastation in under six seconds. I go straight for the jugular and I am thirsting for verbal blood and complete destruction of my enemies. “Vengeance is mine, thus saith the Lord,” says Deuteronomy and I fully connect with my heritage.

For me, it comes down to a simple principle. When playing the social game of thrones, you win or you die. If I wasn’t the victor, I was the victim. So revenge was the only possible choice if taken past my limits.

The problem is, one can’t study Krav Maga and take revenge. It is the antithesis of everything that the discipline represents to escalate a situation unnecessarily. You are expected to walk in peace, to seek peace, and to pursue peace. While you should never be a victim, you should be willing to humble yourself to make peace.

The entire point is to avoid a contact combat situation. Even if you don’t think it could start a physical fight, you don’t risk it. You examine the situation, execute whatever safety protocols are required, and then exit.

Maybe it’s not exactly a synagogue, but this place has definitely made me a better person. I’ve avoided a lot of flare-ups because I found Krav Maga.

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I thought of this because due to quarantine, my fuse has been extra-short lately. A few people in my life had angered me and I was starting to feel myself slip. One was a doctor, who I felt had been wrong in her treatment of me, when she made choices in my treatment without consulting me. While she didn’t commit malpractice, I felt she had definitely behaved in a condescending manner that required me to find a new physician in the middle of a pandemic.

I wanted to go after her job in every way I could. I wanted to write to her supervisor, write to the boards, and basically do whatever I could legally to make her as miserable as she had made me.

Instead, I wrote her a letter, telling her I forgave her. Why? I think she’s still a good physician, she just didn’t work for me. Hurting her career wouldn’t make me less miserable.

Even if I got her fired, (which I doubt) what benefit would that give me? It would just make more people in pain. Moving on was all I could do.

I’ll spare you the details of some of my other revenge moments because I am pretty ashamed of how I wanted to act. I’ll just say good friends confirm I was being immature and mean, and they are very grateful I listened to them and didn’t do anything stupid. The more peaceful approach definitely was the correct one, and I could not be happier with the results of choosing the high road.

Now, sometimes, it doesn’t work out. It’s tough when you reach out and try to make gestures of peace and are roundly ignored. You try to be nice and people are still rude to you, and you can feel your jaw begin to clench.

When that happens, reframe the situation accordingly.

I am not responsible for the actions of others. If I’m in a situation and I’m both keeping myself safe and not de-escalating, I’m the winner.

That’s the beautiful thing about the Krav Maga mentality. My victory isn’t dependent on other people.

I realize now that don’t be a victim doesn’t have anything to do with taking vengeance, and making people fear hurting you. It means not to live in the role of a victim. If you’re taking vengeance against somebody, you already see yourself as a victim who is in need of retribution.

Letting go frees you from that position, and gives you a far better one.

Maybe it’s a new friendship when you realize you misjudged someone.

Maybe it’s forgiving people you care about for not being perfect and continuing a meaningful friendship.

Maybe it’s relief from a past incident and realizing how small it was in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe it’s just the knowledge that you ended the cycle of pain.

In all cases, you are the victor now.

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