Saturday, May 23, 2009

Love your enemies

Through Philippines Science Journalists Association, I came to know Mr. Henry Tacio and his regular emails to me. Once in a while we will reblog his articles in our site.

Here's one interesting article that we can reflect on...

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Back in the days of the American Revolution, General George Washington had a good friend who was a minister. Now, this minister had an enemy in town who did everything he could to abuse and oppose him.

After some years, this man was arrested for treason and sentenced to death. When the minister heard of this, he walked 100 kilometers to the capital to plead for the man’s life. But Washington said, “No, I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”

“My friend?” the minister exclaimed. “He is the bitterest enemy I have.” Then, he told him of what the man had done to him.

Washington was surprised. “You mean that you have walked 100 kilometers to save the life of your enemy? That puts the matter in a different perspective. I hereby grant his pardon.”

It was American president John F. Kennedy who was quoted as saying, “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

If you have some enemies, you are to be congratulated, for no man ever amounted to much without arousing jealousies and creating enemies. Winston Churchill himself said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Hollywood actress Bette Davis was true to herself when she said, “I do not regret one professional enemy I have made. Any actor who doesn’t dare to make an enemy should get out of the business.”

Unknowingly, your enemies are a very valuable asset as long as you refrain from striking back at them, because they keep you on the alert when you might become lazy. As one Jewish proverb puts it: “Listen to your enemy, for God is talking.”

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” – that was what the Old Testament said (Exodus 21:24). Jesus Christ, when He came to this world, suggested otherwise. “Do not resist an evil person,” He was quoted as saying by Matthew. “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (Matthew 5:39-40).

The Old Testament also said: “Hate your enemy.” Jesus contradicted this: “But I tell you: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).

Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate,” Thomas Jones once said. In other words, enemies are made, not born, they say. And that was what business mogul Harvey Mackay believed, too. Fortune magazine once called him “Mr. Make-Things-Happen.”

In his book, Swim with the Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive), he wrote: “Like everyone else, I have accumulated my share of enemies in the course of a lifetime. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Forgive thy enemies is very difficult advice for many of us to follow. After all, if someone has harmed us, we tend to want to get back at them. We can carry our grudges for many, many years.”

When it comes to business, such idea is “totally counterproductive.” He shares this incident: “I once fired an employee who then went into competition with me and began using what I felt were unfair business tactics. The psychic energy and accumulated bitterness that went into my thoughts of revenge consumed me for the better part of five years.

“It was more than a waste of time, because whenever I thought about it, I grew vindictive and sour, and those attitudes spilled over into everything I touched. As a result, I lost more than did the object of my revenge.”

He summed up through these words what he learned from that past event: “If you can’t take the best advice and forgive your enemies, then take the second best and forget them. The only way you can achieve true revenge is not to let your enemies cause you to self-destruct.” Sound advice, indeed.

Even in politics, there are no actual friends and no actual enemies. Listen to the words of Ann Richards: “I’ve always said that in politics, your enemies can’t hurt you, but your friends will kill you.”

There are different types of enemies. But there are people who become our enemies because of our different beliefs or religions. In the middle of the fighting in Lebanon, a Christian seminarian was captured by a Druze Muslim. He ordered the captive down a mountain path, where he was to be shot.

This particular seminarian had had military training, and was able to surprise his captor and disarm him. Now the table was turned: it was the Druze who was ordered down the path.

As they walked along, however, the seminarian recalled the words of Jesus, “Love your enemy. Do good to those that hate you.”

He could go no farther. He threw the rifle into the bushes, told the Druze he could go – and started walking back up the hill.

Minutes later, he heard the Druze coming up behind him. “Is this the end, after all?” he thought. Perhaps the Druze was going to shoot him in the back. But he never turned around; he kept walking straight ahead, until the enemy reached him. Right there and then, the Druze grabbed him, hugged him, and thanked him for sparing his life.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive,” Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

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