Friend or Foe?

Enemy:  One hostile to another; one who hates, and desires or attempts the injury of, another; a foe; an adversary; as, an enemy of or to a person; an enemy to truth, or to falsehood.

In most countries it is considered treason to “give aid to the enemy”. Nazi Germany’s definition of their enemies was anyone who was not “Aryan”, that is, blond and blue-eyed or “pure” German.

Spanish Proverb:Flattery makes friends and truth makes enemies.

Abraham Lincoln:The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.

Source Unknown:One reason we should love our enemies is that we made them ourselves. Another reason is that they keep us on our toes, a third reason is that we should make them our friends.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807- 1882

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.

Cosimo de Medici 1389-1464

We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.

Jesus in Matthew 5:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

So, what turns a friend into an enemy?

Relations between two individuals (or groups, or countries) get strained, usually reaching a point of no return. Two individuals first interact, or begin interacting, with one another either because they are members of the same family, or they work or travel together or there is some common interest that binds the two. As long as this remains a win-win situation, things are fine.

Things become bad when one person gains and the other stands to lose. The aggrieved person now starts putting together his rationale for this unequal situation. He starts imagining that injustice has been handed out to him. He also starts imagining that the other person has an unfair advantage and that he is misusing that advantage.

At this stage he starts making a mental note of the friend’s drawbacks and deficiencies. He also starts recollecting every single negative or unpleasant transaction between the two of them. When he thinks about the friend, he always sees him from the perspective which keeps telling him how good he himself is and how bad the friend is. Another effect of this self-centered perspective is that it keeps reminding him about how, in every transaction, he was right and the friend was wrong. With this mindset, it is difficult to imagine that this person will think in a rational manner. He has already tried, convicted, and condemned the perpetrator.

These two people had different opinions about the particular topic at hand. Instead of saying ‘we agree to disagree’, they probably got into a verbal fight, called each other names, and branded each other as ‘bad’. Neither of these two people was bad, only that transaction had a negative outcome.

I think that it is fairly safe to say that virtually every situation in which friends have a “falling out”, and no longer consider themselves friends, is based upon a misunderstanding. Perhaps something was taken out of context; perhaps expectations were unrealized (whether realistic expectations or not); perhaps a third party said something about one friend or the other and that fostered doubt or suspicion. Whatever the source of the misunderstanding, open and honest dialogue can go a long way to resolving the hurt feelings and the pain between friends.

Get out your best concordance (or your computerized Bible) and look up the number of times Jesus referred to people as friends.

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