Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
— John F. Kennedy
Life is full of being wronged by others. Whether you’re the nicest guy in the world or the meanest, there will be people out there (stupid, irritating, selfish people) who will consciously do whatever’s in their benefit at the cost of yours.
I wish those people got smacked in the face with a rotting fish.
However, the banality “two rights don’t make a wrong” (though three lefts do make a right) is often and most unfortunately true. Sometimes, though, it seems revenge would be so sweet you’d have to see the dentist for a cavity afterward. But if you’ve ever heard of the story of the Hatfields and the McCoys, you’d know why blood for blood solves nothing.
In the famous American tale, two good friends in the Civil War end up killing half of each other’s families. Why? Because a jar of jam was shattered, honor was affronted, and a pig was stolen. Maybe not the most justified reason for killing dozens of people, but to them a reason nonetheless.
Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering how I could be so versed on this topic of history—excluding the fact that Wikipedia exists—so let me explain. It all started when, in casual conversation, my mom used the expression “the Hatfields and the McCoys,” and I said I’d never heard of it.
Determined to show that she hadn’t just made that phrase up on the spot, she forced my sister to record the six-hour History Channel miniseries on those feuding families and then made it mandatory that we all watch it.
Six hours of the History Channel. Just how I like to spend my free time. Right up there with chewing gravel.
But honestly, the show turned out to be really good. In fact, it’s up for quite a few Emmys and stars Kevin Costner. Of course, my mother didn’t preface our viewing with any of this, so I assumed I was entering my own version of laser eye surgery without the anesthetic.
The program did a great job of showing what life was like right after the Civil War and had beautiful cinematography of forested areas representing West Virginia and Kentucky (it was actually filmed in Romania). And although there were times when the show just randomly jumped years ahead, and the accurateness of its tale is left to question, it did a wonderful job of illuminating the theme:
Senseless killing for honor’s sake accomplishes nothing but pain and suffering.
I won’t ruin the ending, but it definitely doesn’t leave you with that Disney warmth inside— its sequel could be titled: “Hatfields and McCoys 2: Studying the Decomposition of Coffins in Soil.”