Love Your Enemies- It'll Drive 'Em Crazy

Sometimes it’s better to turn foes into friends—or, at least, to neutralize them

Team RD Updated: Apr 25, 2022 12:45:38 IST
Love Your Enemies- It'll Drive 'Em Crazy Illustration : Shutterstock

Well, maybe it won’t drive ’em crazy, but it'll certainly discombobulate ’em. Anyway, you can waste a lot of energy being nasty to your enemies. A wise man said it years ago: “If you attend to your work and let your enemy alone, someone else will come along someday and fix him for you.”

But suppose your enemy won’t let you alone? What then? You can do what the man did who was walking the bounds of his new farm and met his neighbour.“Don’t look now,” said the neighbour,“but when you bought this piece of ground, you also bought a lawsuit with me. Your fence is three metres over on my land.”

Now this is the classic opening for a feud that could go on for centuries and make generations of enemies.“Good fences make good neighbours,” wrote poet Robert Frost, but more potent even than good fences are good boundary lines.

The new owner smiled: “I thought I'd  nd some friendly neighbour here,and I’m going to. And you’re going to help me. Move the fence where you want it, and send me the bill.You’ll be satisfied and I'll be happy.”

The story goes that the fence was never moved,and the potential enemy was never the same. He went around talking to himself. He was in shock;after that he was a slightly mystified but friendly neighbour.

There is an old saying, “There are no little enemies.” Enemies may seem little and unimportant, but be careful.Don’t give them cause to make a career of getting even with you. Be nice to that disagreeable paper-boy on the corner.Otherwise he will dedicate himself to working hard and getting rich so he can buy the building you’re in and throw you out. Don’t tell o that snooty golden receptionist who blocks you from getting into the boss. One day she will marry the boss, sure as hell, if for no other reason than to get even with you.

There are all kinds of enemies, and one of the arts of living is to learn to tell them apart. But consider the common or garden-variety of enemy, the kind who never meant to be an enemy at all, and doesn't want to be an enemy, really. He’s not mad at you; he’s mad at the world, and you are wandering witlessly around on his lonely battlefield, stepping on land mines and getting into lines of fire not meant for you at all.

Let me tell you about one of them.She was the dark-eyed daughter of our town barber: a small, stormy,economy-size Gina Lollobrigida seen through the wrong end of a telescope.Years ago, I brought my two little girls home from South America and put them in school down the road. They talked a very peculiar language that was neither English nor Spanish, and their classmates gave them a hard time. Especially‘Lolla’, who was older and the ringleader Terror of the Tiny Tots.

Pat and Peggy came home crying almost everyday, so I decided to cheer them up. “Let’s have a party,” I said. Pat’s and Peggy’s tears dried magically. Right away they got creative: “Ice cream! Cake!Big, red balloons!”

“And friends?” I said. The tears started again.“We haven’t got any friends,”Pat blubbered. Peggy wailed, “Nothing but enemies.” Then I had one of my rare inspirations.“Let’s have an enemy party. Let’s invite all your enemies—

and we’ll  ll ’em up with ice cream and cake and give ’em red balloons to take home.”

Little Pat and Peggy exchanged knowing looks, and one of them said with an eloquent Spanish gesture, “Quépassa al Viejo?” (“What goes with the Old One?”)

Now, the angels who have the special job of watching over children’s parties must have seen to it that the ‘EnemyParty’ was a mad, merry success, and the best time was had by the biggest enemy, little ‘Lolla’, who rolled on the floor and shrieked with delight.

Pat and Peggy never came home crying from school anymore. Their biggest enemy had turned into their staunchest champion.Nobody dared lift a finger against them or little‘Lolla’ would have broken it off , pronto.

One day ‘Lolla’s’ father dropped in to see me.“I came to thank you for asking my little girl to the party,” he said. Then he added, mystified, “Why did you do it?”

“Why not?” I told him.“She’s a solid little citizen,and she likes ice cream, cake and big,red balloons, just like any other little girl. Yes?”

“Oh, yes,” he said. “But do you know something? Nobody ever asked her to a party before. Why?”

A good question. Are the ‘Lollas’ left out because they are enemies, or do they become enemies because they are left out? There are several schools of thought working on this, but the Great Teacher settled it long ago. “Love your enemies,pray for them that persecute you, do good to them that hate you …” And it'll drive them crazy, because it works!

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