Retaliating and Forgiving

It seems this Sunday morning is a perfect time to do something mental work (Yifan and Grandpa are in the park, and Wendy is in university studying). I want to continue to think about the topic of retaliating and forgiving as I first mentioned in this article: The Reason to be Friendly – Part II.

I am not a big fan of hate – I am always so. It seems more natural for me to forgive, but not so easy to retaliate. (Strange person, isn’t it?) But the game theory and the X, Y game I played the other day is a time changer, and I started to see the need for retaliating (or a better way to put it, the need for balancing retaliating and forgiving).

Retaliating is the punishing force to keep everyone playing friendly card. Without retaliating, the X player will always win, and there is no way to fix the problem, and thus hurting the whole society. In our real example, our team played an always-forgiving-never-retaliating role, and ended up with the lowest score (-$38). Although we claim spiritual success, it is a real failure in cash. It is the same for other two Y teams.

With the right retaliating, you help to keep the society stable. With the right retaliating, the “bad guys” are punished, and thus turn them into good guys in the future. A prisoner’s dilemma without retaliating is a complete disaster for everyone, except the defector.

Tit for Tat

The problem with old wisdom and idioms are, they only state part of the truth, and they conflict each other. There is saying of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, and there is another saying “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” How confusing it is!

Now, I read it as the balance of retaliating and forgiving. We cannot just do the one side. People need to the power of courage (to be strong and ready to fight) and the power of empathy (to be ready to forgive). Maybe something in the middle is, a tit for two tats.

My major was automaton in university. I didn’t learn too much from the automation theory, but one thing I remembered was, you have to add some attenuation in a feedback system to keep the system stable. A tit for tat strategy is not attenuation strategy. At least, we should apply 99% tit for a tat strategy in this world.

P.S. I do want to create a small computer program to prove the tit for tat strategy.

3 thoughts on “Retaliating and Forgiving

  1. “an eye for an eye…” is from the Talmud and the Bible. At the beginning it meant to “pay” equally for a damage done. It now means to retaliate. As for the cheek one: from the New Testament: it means to retaliate without violence. Some see it as a humourous, cheeky :) response to an agressor.

    To forgive is easy….but to forget ????

  2. JS, I do think somebody has proven the tit for tat strategy on computer programming. I forgot where I saw that. You may want to find out on website.

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