Revenge: Don't hold that thought

A column today by the Inquirer's John "Gonzo" Gonzalez has me thinking about revenge. Specifically, his piece is about revenge and baseball, and whether there's still payback for the Rockies sweeping the Phillies in the 2007 playoffs (pictured at top). Gonzo thinks there is, and he wants it desperately:

A lot of people - fans and players alike - believe payback shouldn't be an issue since the Phils got to hold that swell parade. That makes perfect sense. Truly. When you finally get the girl and the happy ending you always wanted, why obsess over the jock who momentarily pushed you out of the way and went to the prom with your secret crush?

Because I'm a small, petty man, that's why. I freely admit it.

That's honesty, I guess. I generally like Gonzo's column -- even though I probably disagree with him 52 percent of the time --because he provokes, and he thinks outside the box. I don't know if this is exactly agreeing with him this time, but of all the reasons for getting jacked up about the Phillies crushing Colorado, he's right that revenge probably is the smallest and the most petty. Revenge is -- and should be -- an emotion of the moment, a natutral response in the hours and first couple of days after a disappointment, like the loss like Philadelphia endured in 2007. To seek revenge two years later, after a World Series title, is more than a tad silly.

And it's when our obsession with revenge bleeds into more important things that we need to pay closer attention. I've noted here several times that the worst piece of journalism that ever appeared in the Daily News was our editorial that led the newspaper on Sept. 12, 2001, that was headlined "Blood for blood"; the first sentences read. "Revenge. Hold that thought."

Revenge? Who didn't feel that emotion just 24 hours after the attacks, witnessing the carnage and the wanton havoc that terrorists wreaked on America? But "holding that thought," and making it a tenet of U.S. foreign and military policy, was a terrible idea. Too many people bought into the warped notion that unleashing "shock and awe" on Iraq -- a nation with no involvement in  9/11 -- was somehow revenge for the al-Qaeda attacks. In fact, Sept. 13, 2001, would have been the day for Revenge to leave town, and for its better-looking cousin -- which goes by the name of Justice -- to move in. Sadly, I don't feel we've even obtained justice for 9/11, not with Osama bin Laden at large and with those plotters who are in custody still not even tried. I don't know if we've ever gained our "revenge" for 9/11, but without justice -- punishing these warped killers, in a legal system that should be a model for the rest of the world -- what is the point?

Revenge in baseball? We want the Phillies to embarass the Rockies and send them home for the winter (which apparently has already started in Denver) because we're Philadelphians -- that's what we do. And the Phillies are clearly the better team, so victory in 2009 would also be....justice.

Revenge is for losers.