How to Really Love Your Enemies
It all started as I was driving out into the country to stay with some friends for the weekend. On my way, I passed a sign along the side of the road that made me do a double take. It’s message seemed such a contradiction.
The sign read:
“Love your enemies – it will confuse them.”
This advice, although at first might seem a little cute, really has a very dangerous undercurrent. The idea that we would want to confuse our enemies would indicate we plan to keep them as enemies which IMO, is the opposite of loving them. At the same time, when we use a strategy “against” others, we are setting ourselves up as the superior ones in the interaction.
To love our “enemies” in this way, do we assume we are doing them some kind of favor? I think, in many cases, we’ve missed the point. To love in this way is not really love, it’s warfare.
You can try to defend it – as if to love at all is enough…but it can’t be defined as love when you attempt to confuse your opponent. That kind of thinking is really more a strategy, a tactic to one up somebody. Why isn’t loving simply enough?
I think the greater opportunity in loving people who we’ve given the label “enemy” is to learn to love in a way that we no longer want or need to have enemies in our lives. The point isn’t to love others because we’re the bigger person. The point is to learn the true meaning of love and how to live it.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama challenges us by saying, “in order to change the external world, first we must change ourselves.” His words couldn’t be any truer in relation to loving our enemies. It’s not something we do for or to them, it’s a task and lesson we put ourselves up to. To love others is to recognize and love the divine nature within all of us so we no longer label others as the enemy, even when they don’t think, act, or look like us at all.
The point here is to check our motives for our actions: Why are we trying to be good and who are we really serving?