By: John D. Pepe
I really enjoyed The Punisher Series on Netflix. It was well written and Jon Bernthal truly captured the essence of the Punisher; the best Punisher so far in my opinion. I was enraptured by the series, so much so, that I found myself really rooting for the Punisher. I mean I wanted him to kill those scum bags who betrayed him, and had his family murdered, and I didn’t care how nasty he got, as long as he got it done. I wanted revenge for the transgressions against him as much as the character did.
At one point I stepped back, looked at my reactions, and thought: What within me is okay with revenge? I realized that by placing myself in the character’s shoes, I put my rational self at odds with my fallible human emotions. Somewhere deep within me I have a need to get back at those who have harmed me, so to speak. So, I asked myself, does revenge heal the soul? I mean, it makes us feel as if we gotten even, but does it actually take the pain away?
Jesus calls for us to forgive, to turn the other cheek. He told us that we no longer live by the covenant of the old testament, an eye for an eye. And I agree-or the rational part of me does (the emotional part, not always); because meeting violence with violence rarely solves one’s problems, and more often cause bigger ones, both physically and emotionally. And whether our revenge involves killing, or exacting some level of violence less than killing (maybe like Daredevil’s level-beating the tar out of bad guys), or revenge with no violence at all, it doesn’t take away the wrong we have been dealt. All it does is slake our need to even the score, never making us whole, and it never takes away the pain. In fact, generally speaking, it causes one to become steeped in that mire of pain, hate, and anger-providing the fuel to keep those fires of burning. When we become engrossed in those emotions we become resentful and depressed, making us vulnerable to the negative suggestions that lead us to a darker path (just look at the Punisher).
Forgiveness is what sets us free. Forgiveness helps to cleanse the soul by washing away the pain, sorrow, and hurt-the emotions that guide us to anger and resentment. Forgiveness helps to light the path, so that we can make ourselves whole again. This forgiveness, or the forgiving of the sins others have bestowed upon us is exactly what God does for us when we ask, even though we don’t deserve it. But if we are able to do for others what God is willing to do for us, i.e., forgive, then we will be able to heal, as much as the other person, if not more; And I postulate that forgiving another is much more therapeutic for the person forgiving, that for the one receiving. I think may be that is the message that God is trying to convey to us.
If you don’t learn to forgive then you can never be Frank Castle, you will forever remain the Punisher. Now the Punisher is fun to watch, but remember he is a fiction, and being like him, in the real world, I think, one would be miserable-alone, continuously angry and hurt, and always looking to exact revenge. Carrying the knowledge that no matter how many bad guys you put in the ground, no matter how much revenge you exact, it will never fill the void. It will never take away your pain, hurt, and sorrow. So learn to forgive. What will it be for you the next time someone wrongs you-Revenge or Forgiveness?
I choose forgiveness. I choose to be Frank.