This might be the toughest Peace Challenge for many of you, but I want to take us out of our comfort zones for true peace. This month, I want you to open your arms to your enemies. Think of a person, a place, a nation, a culture, a religion, a gender, or an ideology that you view as a enemy. – Kozo.
Let’s first take a look at what defines the word enemy:
1. One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another; a foe.
a. A hostile power or force, such as a nation.
b. A member or unit of such a force.
3. A group of foes or hostile forces.
4. Something destructive or injurious in its effects: Of, relating to, or being a hostile power or force.
“Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes” [Antisthenes]
“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you” [Eric Hoffer The Passionate State of Mind]
“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies” [Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere’s Fan]
“A very great man once said you should love your enemies, and that’s not a bad piece of advice. We can love them, but, by God, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to fight them” [Norman Schwarzkopf]
“The enemy retreats, we pursue” [Mao Zedong slogan for his troops]
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility” [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Driftwood]
“We have met the enemy and he is us” [Walt Kelly Pogo]
“Yet is every man his own greatest enemy, and as it were his own executioner” [Thomas Browne Religio Medici]
I could go to a dark place in my life where I have perpetrated all the actions of point one above on myself. But I won’t, as I’d rather keep the topic of this months challenge light. So let me think what can I write about? I know, I have a hatred of coffee, only because I’ve tried it and know I hate it. I also have a hatred of dolls and spiders, but only because I have an unnatural fear of them. However, I do have a strong hatred of war and everything it represents, but I suspect many of us have that feeling.
As to hatred toward another person, well, there have been times in my life I’ve disliked a few people, who hasn’t. But can I truly say I hated them?
I’d rather believe in the words of Walt Kelly and Thomas Browne, for I believe we are our own greatest enemy.
On many occasions I’ve criticised myself, hated myself, loathed myself for the way that I am or the things that I’ve done without even knowing why. It is far easier to hate ourselves than to hate someone else, don’t you think. Why, because we know ourselves. All the misguided beliefs that make us, us. Hate that we’re too short or too tall. Hate that we’re not perfect. Hate that we ate the cream cake when we thought we shouldn’t have. Hate that we will never measure up to those around us. I could go on, but the list is endless because we will always find something to hate about ourselves. Truth is, we are our own greatest enemy?
So how do we defeat this inner enemy?
As for me, in between the peace negotiations and white-flag waving, the battle still persists. The only difference from when the war began back in my youth, the skirmishes are less frequent now. Maybe age has something to with it, or maybe I’m finally growing tired of constantly beating myself up over the smallest of things that shouldn’t matter.
So what if I’m only 5ft 2ins and sagging in places I never thought I would.
So what if my 50th birthday will soon be upon me.
So what if I can’t bake a cake without it sinking in the middle.
I’m not perfect. I’m getting older. And I’m never going to be a master baker.
‘Get over it‘ is what I tell myself. Well, perhaps it’s about time I did.
If, by chance, you’ve succeeded in signing your inner, peace treaty, I’d really love to hear about it. Maybe I’ll find a few pointers in how to get my opposing sides together and at last, agree to some form of peace. Who knows, I could get lucky.
Let’s finish this months challenge with a meaningful quote:
“Normally we divide the external world into that which we consider to be good or valuable, bad or worthless, or neither. Most of the time these discriminations are incorrect or have little meaning. For example, our habitual way of categorizing people as friends, enemies, and strangers depending on how they make us feel is both incorrect and a great obstacle to developing impartial love for all living beings. Rather than holding so tightly to our discriminations of the external world, it would be much more beneficial if we learned to discriminate between valuable and worthless states of mind.” – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey.
Peace out until next month people.