The High Cost of Getting Even

March 11, 2013

One night, while traveling through Yellowstone Park, Dale Carnegie sat with other tourists on bleachers facing a dense growth of pine and spruce. Presently the animal that they had been waiting to see, the grizzly bear, strode out into the glare of the lights and began devouring some garbage that had been dumped there. A forest ranger, Major Martindale, sat on a horse and talked to the excited tourists about bears. He said that the grizzly bear could whip any other animal in the Western world, with the possible exception of the buffalo and the Kodiak bear.

Yet, Carnegie noticed that there was one animal—and only one—that the grizzly permitted to come out of the forest and eat with him under the glare of the lights: a skunk.

The grizzly knew that he could liquidate a skunk with one swipe of his powerful paw. Why didn’t he do it? Because he had found from experience that it didn’t pay.

The experience reminded Carnegie that he used to trap four-legged skunks along the hedgerows in Missouri when he was a farm boy. And as a man, he encountered a few two-legged skunks on the sidewalks of New York. Experience had taught him that it didn’t pay to stir up either variety.

When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness. Our enemies would dance with joy if only they knew how they were worrying us, lacerating us, and getting even with us. Our hate is not hurting them at all, but our hate is turning our own days and nights into a hellish turmoil.

Release your animosities and hate toward your enemies before you find out—the hard way—about the truly high cost of getting even.

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Photo credit: miles

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