Most feuds begin with a minor offense
or misunderstanding

When a minor offense is countered with a harsh retaliation, it can start an escalating pattern of increasingly bitter acts of revenge.

This is a sad story about good people. It didn’t need to happen.

Sam Smith and Jim Jones grew up in the same neighborhood, went to school together and were best buddies. They were delighted when they and their families became next door neighbors. Their children played kick the can, hide and seek, hopscotch, and jump rope in each other’s yards. Jim, Sam, and their wives played cards, talked politics, and drank beer together while the children played.

One night after having had a little too much beer, Jim made what he thought was an innocent comment. He called Sam’s statement on a political issue naive and stupid. He intended no harm and certainly didn’t expect anyone to take him seriously.

Samantha and Sam Smith however didn’t quite see it that way. Jim shouldn’t have made the comment in the first place and he paid dearly for his insensitivity.

Sam was deeply offended. He didn’t offer Jim the chance to give a sincere apology that, if accepted, would end the matter. Instead, Sam retaliated harshly. He told another neighbor a spiteful lie about Jim and Jane.

When the Jones’s heard what Sam said about them, they wanted revenge. They trained their dog to do his business on the Smith’s lawn. In return for that offence, Samantha had her son put the dog’s feces on the sidewalk in front of the Jones’ front door. Soon, the children were making faces and calling each other names.

When the oldest Jones girl, a girl the Smiths used to love like one of their own, graduated from High School with special honors, the Smith family accused her of having cheated her way through school. Some believed the accusation and the girl’s reputation suffered for it.

Things really heated up when Jimmy Jr. and Sam Jr. got into a fistfight. Each boy was instructed by his father to beat the stuffing out of the other when the next chance came around. Jimmy ended up in the hospital with broken bones and a nasty cut that would leave an ugly scar on his face.

That’s when Jim senior really upped the ante. He bought a gun and threatened the Smiths with death if he caught them trespassing on his property. The police were called. Sam got a restraining order against Jim, and Jim ended up on probation for his threats of assault with a deadly weapon.

Neither family would give the other the satisfaction of moving out of the neighborhood and a tall fence was erected between the two houses. Of course, the fence shaded Jim’s best gardening area. His family would be deprived of home grown tomatoes for the duration of the fence, and the feud.

Eventually, when the children were grown the Smiths and the Jones’s moved into condominiums in different parts of town. Sam and Jim however packed up and carried their grudges with them. They lived in the past and kept their hatred alive. What started out as a beautiful friendship ended up with two sour old men fantasizing about revenge.

According to the story, the Hatfields and the McCoys couldn’t even remember what started their famous family feud. They remembered their hatred however, and they escalated their bitter acts of self-righteous revenge. They ended up killing one another.

When retaliations are escalated and hatred is nurtured, nobody wins.

    —M. LaCourt