Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Futility of Having Enemies

Recovering alcoholic or not, I can honestly say that at no time in my life have I ever considered another human being to be an enemy. Sure, there have been persons whose actions I dislike. There have been persons I think are assholes, or are ignorant, or selfish, or arrogant, or mean-spirited—some so much so that I have wound up disliking them--mostly because they do or say things that are hurtful or just because they’re a drag to be around.

But I have never considered anyone an enemy because of what that word really means: “One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another; a foe.”

I consider this definition, and it occurs to me that having an enemy says more about the person who has the enemy, and nothing at all about the enemy herself.

Here’s how I look at it: if someone does something that bothers me, and if I try to talk with that person about it, and if we are unable to reach an agreement about mutual respect, or agree to just disagree about whatever it is and move past it, or agree to do whatever it may take to live with each other in this world, then I don’t see anything to gain by trying to punish them. That's actually kind of childish. Hatred is a big waste of energy. Plotting revenge is a colossal waste of time. And wishing ill on another is just plain bad karma—that crap does nothing but hurt the ill-wisher in the long run. You know what they say about it coming back to you threefold.

No, my habit, if the person and I can’t have a meeting of the minds, is to just walk away. I put that person out of my mind. They can go on with their own life, and I will happily go on with mine. And I will thank them to henceforth stay out of my business, as I will respectfully stay out of theirs. It's the best truce we can reach.

It’s really that simple.

Besides, as the Dalai Lama said, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” I can’t really hate someone who has imparted a valuable lesson to me, even if the lesson is merely “don’t mimic this behavior.”

We're not here to fight each other.

We are here to serve each other.

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