Over the weekend, I read/heard two great quotes about the nature of friends and enemies:
1) The first was from Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal where she reminds us of a political rule that “Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.” Really this applies in all of life, a few real friends may last over an entire lifetime, but most others are transient, such as in school, at work, or in a community, but when you leave that place or circumstance, the friendships often do not persist. However, enemies seem to last forever, where people never forget when they feel they’ve been wronged and these people may actually seek each other out and even join forces to get their contemplated revenge. The fight is not always fair or just, but people’s feelings when they think they’ve been wronged, hang in the air, like the stench of decaying carcasses. Something to beware of.
2) The second was from a martial arts movie called Ninja 2 where one of the characters says to a martial arts expert, whose wife was brutally murdered, “The man who seeks revenge should dig two graves.” Upon which, the martial artist wittingly responds, “They’ll need to dig a lot more than that,” and in the movie, the Ninja exacted his revenge on the drug lord and his gang for the murder they committed.
My impressions are that we should try to be good people and have a broad positive influence in the world. With some people, we will find true friendship–and very often, there is an almost unexplainable chemistry to this, where it just clicks–and it’s as if we’ve known this person not only in this lifetime, but in prior lifetimes as well. In other cases, the friendships are more temporal based on shared circumstance, camaraderie, or even an alliance or sorts, and these really are not sustained when one or both parties move on. And that’s okay, not every friendship is deep and forever.
In terms of enemies, you know it when you have it. Again, chemistry may play a role or one person may have indeed wronged the other. Sometimes, people can learn from making a mistake, they can apologize, commit to do better in the future, and there can be forgiveness. In other circumstances, the blood between people is bad and won’t get better, because there is scarcity, misunderstanding, bias, or even blind hatred. In these cases, it often seems as if no amount of communication, negotiation, or bending over backwards will resolve it. You can try–it’s always worth a try–but be prepared to circle the wagons and defend yourself, if all else fails.
Finally, a wrongful act can be so brutal and egregious that at times it seems that only a “joust to the death” will do, but revenge in the end, does not bring anybody back or undue the harm done. Yes, when justice is done, the world seems somehow righted and the fallen can be released from their painful throes and go on in peace, and maybe the evil aggressor will be prevented from hurting others in the future. In the end, the smell of peace is the sweetest of all, when we can live and let live. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)