During the Spring of 1996, a female coworker publicly humiliated me. It was a brutal, embarrassing, and hurtful work experience. What came next was only natural: I felt justified in my anger, I was entitled to it.

In the succeeding weeks, I remained steadfast in revenge. I meditated, for hours, on the demise of this coworker. Nothing else mattered. I breathed it, bathed in, swam in it, and accepted it. I stood standing upon the cliffs of hatred and dove into its thirsty chasm and swam lovingly. Inhaling the hatred’s aroma, I cleared my focus of any impending light. I drank the nectar, and damn, it was good. There was no compassion for struggle. Didn’t matter that she was a single mother of three, earning minimum wage, and stigmatized from years of being overweight.

Within weeks, my coworker became sick. In another two, she lay in a coma. Near to death, a manager I befriended years before looked me directly in the eye, and said, “Stop this?” How that manager knew, I don’t know. However, when I relented to peace, the woman returned to life. I vowed never to return to the ocean of hatred again.

Two decades later, I reflect, and ask, “Was I legally responsible for my coworker’s weeks spent near death weeks?” In our world of evidentiary procedure, there’s no empirical evidence that I wielded such control. So, technically, no. Was I morally responsible? One-hundred percent.

Jesus reportedly said, “You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” It’s a weird command, but Jesus is asking us to go the extra mile for someone who abuses us and to love and pray for them instead of pursuing hostility. In summary, Jesus is saying we need to be pure and as accommodating as possible for the sake of a better world.

Twenty years past visiting the pool hatred, I never revisited. However, many have willingly replaced me.

In the wake of Trump’s assassination of Soleimani, Iran vowed vengeance. As I eventually came to realize, Trump’s, Iran, and my thirst for revenge (of my coworker) are not far from those who enter a business, compete in sports or participate in life. We’re all somewhat similar. In our way, each of us demands revenge, killing for most slights. As such, ‘vengeance wars’ propagate. And unless a political solutions settles it, the ongoing war will enter a slower, more complex, and costly second phase that includes alliance-building, negotiation, and constant plotting. In the ensuing fight, if two people die, there will be others vowing to avenge the previous two. In the end, both sides seek vengeance for accumulated unavenged deaths and maimings and woundings from earlier conflicts.

Here’s my confession. The same revenge used on my coworker killed the passengers of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Flight PS752. I am ashamed of myself. I wonder if Trump, Iran or anyone else is ashamed as well. Wouldn’t have been better to have thrown President Trump and Hassan Rouhani (President of Iran) into a Mixed Martial Arts cage to ‘duke’ it out?

Trump telegraphed his beliefs early. We didn’t listen. In 2016, WHAM 1180 AM radio host Bob Lonsberry asked Trump if he had a favorite Bible verse or story that’s impacted his thinking or character. Trump’s responded with an “eye for an eye.” However, the eye for an eye scripture was never meant to condone repeated cycles of violence.

Note Jesus’ expression, “you heard that it was said.” He was referring to some Jewish religious leaders who taught retaliation. For Trump and other like-minded, they’ve either never read or intentionally neglect that the Mosaic Law also states: “You must not take vengeance nor hold a grudge against the sons of your people.” (Leviticus 19:18) Rather than promoting personal vengeance, the Law encouraged people to trust in God and in the legal system that he had authorized to right any wrongs. (Deuteronomy 32:35)

Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Twenty years ago, I walked away from hatred. I let go of that seeking to pull me into hatred’s riptide. I take a step forward, and inhaled fresh air reached for a healthier level of self-love. All of us must do the same.