What's Wrong with Condemnation & Vengeance?
1. Anytime we condemn and seek vengeance, we solidify ourselves in catastrophic thinking in order to maintain this 'just-world hypothesis.' Human beings are pro's at inflating their own suffering. This comes naturally, and catastrophic, irrational thinking is almost always the default mode of thinking. We need neither help nor encouragement to pretend that every wrong we endure is horrible and unforgivable and deserving of severe punishment; we lean toward such thoughts automatically.
But when we take these thoughts and embark down the path of condemnation, we solidify ourselves in this destructive mindset in order to make our vengeance and condemnation seem warranted and just. We yoke ourselves to these irrational, catastrophic thoughts. We cement our shoes in a firm stance on the side of feeling irrationally devastated, angry, and unforgivably wronged. Because to NOT do this would feel unjust.
2. Humans were never meant to play God. Every time we judge another, especially when that judgment involves severe consequences, it sets a subconscious bar in our own brain. We may not be aware of it at the time, but our subconscious tends to keep a mental score card of the punishment we dish out to others, only to turn that back on ourselves when we inevitably do wrong. Harsh judgment of others tends to lead to harsher judgment of ourselves, resulting in greater feelings of guilt, personal insecurity, inadequacy, and general angst for anyone with a conscience.
In the words of Albert Ellis & Aaron Harper, "If you roundly condemn others for what you consider their wrongdoing you will tend to turn the same standards on yourself and end up with considerable self-loathing. Lack of forgiveness of others breeds lack of self-forgiveness. ...To devalue others for their mistakes helps you devalue your own humanity." (Ellis & Harper, 1961, p. 130)
To err is human; to forgive is divine, as the old saying goes. And to take a path of condemnation when others err (as is human) is to turn this condemnation on ourselves sooner or later. Nor is it reasonable. Or as Ellis & Harper (1961, p. 137) put it, "to err is human; to forgive people and yourself for poor behavior is to be sensible and realistic."
3. In almost all situations, vengeance and condemnation tend to escalate hostilities, not quell them. As Heather Wax (2008) notes, “far from gaining, people who punish tend to escalate conflict, worsen their fortunes and eventually lose out." It turns out the urge to punish others usually doesn't help us out any in the long run, and it often serves to escalate conflict. Or as Roger & McWilliams (1991, p. 331) observe, "we sometimes think that shaking a fist (threateningly, with all the remembered transgressions) is the way to get something. A shaking fist tends to beget a shaking (or swinging) fist."
4. Vengeance and condemnation makes reconciliation all but impossible. And since reconciliation tends to remove the seeds of hurt and is always the most beneficial outcome that could be achieved for your family, this means you seek revenge at the cost of what is likely to be most helpful for your family in the long run.