Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do you have enemies?

A friend happened to mention to me about what she was reading in the book ‘Art of Happiness’ by the Dalai Lama. She mentioned how he asks us to treat enemies as people that have a purpose in our lives. They challenge us and through those challenges, we can make better people of ourselves. I happen to read somewhere else that Winston Churchill had once said – “If you have made enemies, that’s great because it means you have stood up for something in your life”. And Franklin Roosevelt said, “Judge me by the enemies I have made.” The Dalai Lama himself has many powerful enemies, who have made him the international figure that he is. If not for them, he would have been a humble monk who would have lived in oblivion in a far away land that is called the ‘Roof of the World’.

Can we therefore say Success = function of (enemies)?  It sounds weird to recommend to anyone, especially in today’s world that is filled with animosity and hatred to ‘Go and make some enemies’. Just doesn’t sound right. Does that mean this equation could work just for great people like the Dalai Lama, Churchill or Roosevelt and not to mere mortals like the rest of us? That doesn’t sound right either. There is no reason any one of us cannot be great.

I think the answer may lie in the way we define enemies. ‘Enemies’ historically has been a term used to refer to people who have fought on the other side in a war. Another human being just like ourselves but standing up for the ‘other side’. If we leave alone the objectives of the ‘other side’. The objective of the enemy himself was to kill us and help his side win. They weren’t ‘evil’ in any other way, except for wanting to kill us! Often soldiers found that their enemies were going through the same challenges as them and the stories were similar on both sides. In a time and age when wars are no longer fought against a designated enemy but against a shadowy figure that we aren’t even sure is alive or dead or hiding in some mountain cave?! We have lost the true meaning of what an enemy represented. The life that the enemy wished to take away was a small price for the honour and pride the enemy instilled in the soldiers of yesteryears.

We therefore we need a different word, as ‘enemy’ is not right any more. I think that word could be ‘rival’. Rivals are what we need in our lives. A sporting analogy would be - what a Rafael Nadal is to Roger Federer. What would Federer be without his Nadal?! There is no champion, who has not been challenged by a worthy rival. We all need rivals. A rival who makes a champion out of us is nothing but a godsend. A person that we find hard to not respect for their potential and not just an evil person that wants to take away our trophy.

Therefore, Success = function of (rivals). That allows me to think of another angle to the equation about enemies. We all need to re-look at all the people that we consider to be our enemies. And look for a rival in them. Is there something in that person that we can appreciate and respect. If we can respect our ‘enemies’ we can overcome hate and turn those enemies into a resource – a rival. A godsend.

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