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Loving Thy Enemy

Updated: May 3, 2021

'Love Thy Enemy' is a phrase many have heard; it sounds so beautiful and Holy, but truthfully, it seems to be a complicated philosophy to live by at times! So much so, it seems many have entirely ruled it out as a belief. Understandably so! The concept of loving someone who has deeply hurt us, or someone who has completely different moral standards than we do, seems paradoxical. It also seems that doing anything other than judging or shaming this person that did 'bad' things would somehow make their actions okay.

Often, in life, the simplest concepts hold hidden and powerful messages when explored deeply. I feel it is essential first to intellectualize this idea of 'loving thy enemy'. As Byron Katie often says, we do not have to change our mind but simply explore the thought.

When we argue or disagree with someone, we are sure we are correct, and they are wrong. But, when we assert our point, it tends to get worse. The one way to get someone to dig in deeper and attach more to their opinion is to tell them they are wrong. It is a common human reaction to become defensive. In the end, healthy disagreements have their place in our world, but hateful debates will never create a bridge to peace.

Even more profound, what is the specific emotion behind our 'rightness'? What is under the anger or sadness? I believe it is fear: fear of the unknown, fear of 'what if', fear of being out of control, fear of pain or uncomfortableness, etc. So, do we want peace, or do we want to be right?

If the answer is peace, then consider 'loving thy enemy'. Pradervand, the Author of Gentle Art of Blessings, shared a story that exemplifies how to do this and why.

Pradervand had a friend that lived in Zimbabwe during a time of great duress. His friend shared how the Zimbabwe leader had created a great deal of suffering, which lead to much fear and anger for his countrymen and women. Knowing that fear breeds more fear, love creates more love, and peaceful thoughts generate more peace, he puts into practice 'loving thy enemy'. He would bless the leader daily. An example of this may have been blessing him in authentic love, harmony, compassion, and peace. He wanted to help ease the suffering for all, and he knew that no one could change with a wall of hate around them. How can anyone change with a wall of hostility around them, either self-made hate or hate/shame others throw 'on' them, or a combination of both?

Without knowing it, we create a more complex situation by cursing those that are 'wrong'. Hateful words, thoughts or actions are only building a wall of hate so thick that not a bit of love can get through it! If all someone knows is hate and shame, will they not act out of that space? Will they not create more pain? Blessing someone that you disagree with does not mean they get a free pass. It means you do - you get to pass on absorbing more stress, anger, and pain. Blessing thy enemy creates a crack in someone's hate-filled wall while it creates more love in you!

Something more to 'be with':

Do you have a wall? Is it self-made? Does that silent voice in your head say encouraging things to you, or does it 'put you down?' If you only have negative self-talk, how can you 'act' out of any other space than that one? Can you find a way to let in self-acceptance in to begin to crumble your wall?

Pradervand, Pierre. The Gentle Art of Blessing: a Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World. Cygnus Books, 2010.

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