~ By Christy Lipke
Enemies, they are everywhere aren’t they?
They are the reason people who go to an NFL game wearing a visitor’s jersey end up in holding cells or first aid stations. They are the reason Coke and Pepsi are never stocked next to each other. They are the reason you dread the Thanksgiving get together with your family every year and as far as I can tell they are the only reason most comment sections exist but do we hurt our own selves by having enemies?
Should we not show them compassion?
Today it is easy to find enemies. A quick look around and they come out of the wood work. People who do not wear masks in public, people working against your civil rights, the people who show up on social media just to insult you and the car in front of you at the drive thru the orders eight burgers each with it’s own special set of instructions… We may disagree with these people. We may see the harm they do to society as a whole (minus the car at the drive thru that only harms all the people behind them) but must we view them as our enemies?
I think a good first step would be to point out the similarities these people have to us.
Even if they hate some people they probably have people they love. In this way they are like us who also have people we love in our lives. Like us they have hobbies, jobs and goals. They sometimes feel sad. They sometimes get sick. They feel hopeful, hopeless, excited and they fall in love. In other words they are human just like us. It is tempting to view them as red eyed demons devoid of humanity but this just is not true.
Second, “Every villain is the hero of his or her own story” ~ Christopher Volger.
Chances are they guy who shows up to your local grocery store not wearing a mask and making a stink about not being let in is not doing it just because he wants to make people angry or make their day more difficult. Chances are he thinks he’s fighting a grave injustice.
He may think they Covid is a myth that shady government figures are taking advantage of or he may think he is fighting for the liberty and freedom of all Americans or any number of conspiracies. Those that think these things are not evil; they genuinely believe they are doing what is best. At worst they are misled.
Does this mean we should stop asking them to put on a mask? No, but it does mean we should stop vilifying them. We do them a disservice by writing them off as terrible people and when we do we ensure they will go on not wearing masks and potentially infecting others who may become sick or even die.
What about the people who seemingly hate us for existing though? Those that sling insults at us for being part of a minority group or a group with opposing ideals? Of all the people with the potential for being labeled “enemy” this group is the easiest to demonize.
Some will tell you outright that they hate you for existing. Some have lists of reasons why you should not exist. These groups sling horrible insults and slurs and laugh when you ask them to stop. They may even plaster their social media accounts with hate symbols in the name of free speech. Are they not vile creatures worthy of our contempt? To answer that question we must take a closer look at them.
Why do they hate us?
They probably did not wake up one morning and decide “I’m going to hate X group because it sounds like fun.” Maybe they were raised by their parents to hate a certain group. Maybe one day they found themselves pulled down a rabbit hole to the fringes of the internet where the hatred of certain groups is rationalized and normalized. They may even view themselves as failures in life and find it easier to blame others than examine their own inner workings.
In this they are worthy of our compassion.
Imagine the pain they must feel inside in order to hate us so. People who hate are never happy people—quite the opposite they are generally miserable and misery loves company. You can not hate others without hating yourself. That self hate is slowly poisoning them and leading them down a path of self destruction.
To hate them back is follow them down that path. Love them even if they do not love you back. You do not need to hate them to stand up to them.
You can do that with love.
Christy Lipke is a Comic book loving, cancer surviving, spiritual seeker who also happens to be transgender.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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