Lately I’ve been hearing people talk a lot about getting revenge and fighting negativity with negativity. “How can I just leave people to treat me badly? I have to be to them as they are to me.” This is the sentiment that people keep echoing. I agree that no one should be disrespected, I also agree that people should be able to stand up to those who are mistreating them, but I don’t really agree with fighting negativity with negativity.
It just doesn’t help to be mean and horrible to those people who are mean and horrible to you. It contributes to an endless cycle of negativity and with the ‘tit-for-tat’ attitude people have, that cycle will never end.
We may think that we are standing up for ourselves and achieving justice by reacting to negativity with more negativity but honestly I see it as a futile effort. What does one achieve from screaming back at someone who is screaming at you? What do you achieve by abusing and disrespecting someone who has done that to you? Instead of helping the situation you are making it worse, because you are condoning and contributing to negativity, thereby giving it justification.
“But it doesn’t help to be nice”, people will say to me. “If someone is horrible to me, I need to be the same to them,” and I ask them if this helps anyone, to which they calmly reply, ‘yes, it helps me to feel better’. But, even they have to admit that the feeling they speak about is short lived, and while they may have gotten their revenge, the major problems continue to persist and it just keeps escalating.
Now, please understand I am not saying that you should be a ‘doormat’ that simply just accepts whatever people do to you. This is obviously not healthy either. But the only way to fight negativity is with positivity, and if you think I’m talking nonsense or this doesn’t help, you need to look into the life of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The story that stands out for me and all other Muslims is when the Prophet (pbuh) went to a city near Makkah called Ta’if to preach about Islam. The people were horrible to him to an extent that me and you can never imagine. They got the children to pelt our beloved Prophet (pbuh) with stones, and they mocked and insulted him as they drove him out of the city. His feet were bleeding the way they pelted him, and what did he do. He made sure that his blood did not touch the floor because he knew that if the blood of a Prophet touches the ground then Allah Almighty will destroy the people who caused it. He (pbuh) was asked by the angel Jibreel (peace be upon him), that Allah has sent me and if you say so Allah will crush the people between these two mountains, and the Prophet (pbuh) refused to let that happen. He said that maybe it will be that people of their progeny will accept Islam, and you know what, that’s exactly what happened. SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), can we even imagine that sort of mercy.
There are many other stories in the life of the Prophet (pbuh), stories which illustrate so well that he fought negativity with positivity and people changed and they ended up loving him and embracing Islam, because he was not concerned with revenge, and he understood that negativity upon negativity can never bring about positivity.
So where does this “tit-for-tat” attitude come from? What makes us think that we need to get even or die trying? Why do we believe that we should give people what they give us? I like to argue that it’s all our ego, and if this is true then we really need to be working on ourselves first before we can even consider bringing about any positive change.
There are many ways to deal with negative people, but revenge is not one of them. After all, these very people who are negative are only human beings, with their own needs and insecurities and maybe they don’t understand how to be nice or good because no one has ever being nice or good to them.
So let us try to always be positive people, people who emulate our beloved Prophet (pbuh) in all ways, people who can’t imagine treating someone else negatively because we ourselves do not like to be treated that way. May Allah Almighty guide us all and help us to be positive role-models.