What is the best way to destroy your enemies? Is it to ruin their reputation, to curse them, or to dothem violence? And if you do, will this make your better than them?
One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Well, that is a unique way to deal with your enemies. A way not seen too often these days. But if they are your enemies, how do you make them your friends?
2,000 years ago, Jesus gave us this answer: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”*
Love your enemies. That is no easy task, but it is possible. Do you need a starting point on how to do this? Then let us look to the advice Solomon gave us.
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
Let us pretend for a moment. Let us pretend we are enemies.
If I was your enemy, what would you do? Would you openly attack? Attempt to publicly shame me? Would you go out of your way to do me harm?
And as for me, if I was your enemy, what would I do? Well, after careful consideration, I would employ the tactics of the devil. I would smile and let you believe that I am your friend. I would try to direct you in the direction I would want you to go using subtle persuasion and humility. Shoot! I might even try to tell you the devil’s greatest lie: That I don’t exist. It is hard to fight an enemy if you don’t know he is even there.
Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
If I were your enemy, my goal would be to break you without ever fighting. But thank the Light, we are not enemies.
Manipulation by those in power
Et cetera, et cetera
Oftentimes, we don’t know we have enemies. We don’t know we are in a battle. We are not even aware of our adversaries’ existence. Yet, they are there. They are trying to direct us where they want us to go. They are trying to break our resistance without fighting.
What can we do?
We must seek out what is really there, not what is easily seen on the surface, not what our enemies want us to see.
How can we do this?
We must become our own fact-checkers. We must listen to our hearts. And when our hearts tell us something is amiss, we must do the research and solve the riddles dressed in plain sight.
For some high-adventure reading chocked full of action with a healthy mixture of historical facts and figures, I would recommend Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe Series. The series follows the fictional life of Richard Sharpe, a career soldier in the early 19th century.
One of Sharpe’s assignments was leading the 95th Rifle Regiment in the British Army. This unit was an advanced skirmisher company. Instead of having to stand in formation trading volleys of gunfire with the enemy, they would employ a type of guerilla warfare and harass them. Much like wolves unable to attack a herd of buffalo, they would look for weaknesses to exploit. They were an annoyance to the enemy and could slow down their progress.
Who are your enemies?
We may not be fighting in a war, but we do have enemies in our lives. And like the 95th Rifles, our enemies like to employ skirmishers. Your enemies could be:
Viruses. Whether they are on your computer or in your body, they have one goal. Viruses look for points of weakness to exploit. Once they find the weakness, they can do their work of destruction.
Like the viruses attacking our bodies, we have addictions that wreak similar havoc. Sugar, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and all the other ones that give you a temporary high in exchange for long-term, slow-growing problems like diabetes, liver/lung cancer, and all the other self-induced diseases.
And then there are other people. For some reason, they have their problems with you. They would like nothing better than to see you stumble in some sort of way. They want to find and exploit your weaknesses. To gain an edge, they will highlight your mistakes, sabotage your work, and spread rumors to sully your reputation.
The benefit of enemies
What can we learn from those who attack our weakest areas? Looking into the mirror, I often only see what I want to see. Somehow, I am less inclined to see the flaws. But if I look at a photograph, the story is different. My eyes noticed the flaws that were overlooked in the mirror. My posture, the way my gut hangs out, and the fit of my clothes can no longer be ignored by the bias of the mirror. Without the mirror, I would continue in my self-deception.
We tend to over-estimate our good points and look beyond our weaknesses. When we do this, we fail to fix the things that need fixing. Our enemies do not look at us through the mirror of self-deception but instead through the photograph. There are no filters to gloss over all the flaws and weaknesses. Once they know where to point their attack, they can hit us where it hurts. And while it does hurt, it also gives us an opportunity to grow. Now that we know what our weaknesses are, we can work in those areas and strengthen them. We should be grateful the enemy pointed this out. Without their help, we would continue in our delusion.
“Pay attention to your enemies,” said the Greek philosopher Antisthenes, “for they are the first to discover your mistakes.” To ignore them would be perilous. But to use them to your advantage would arm yourself against future attacks. Be grateful for the opportunity to grow. You can even take the high road and thank your enemies for pointing out these weaknesses. Who knows? You may even remove the reason why they are your enemies in the first place.