Aug 19

Overcoming Your Enemy

We can all agree Mahatma Gandhi was a wise man, can’t we? If not, I recommend you watch the story of his life, Gandhi (1982), and give my question another try.

One of my favorites among Gandhi’s many expressions of wisdoms is this:

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.”

By Unknown –,
Public Domain,

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately, with all the horribleness that has been coming to a head in the US. This is not a post about politics or statues or tiki torch-wielding protestors, however. It’s a post about humans.

We are all human, right? We still have that in common?

I think we’d remember that clearly if, say, some violent group of extraterrestrials invaded Earth, our common home, hell bent on destroying us all. We’d band together pretty quickly, wouldn’t we? Who would care if the person beside you, fighting evil ET, was of a different race or religion or sexual orientation? You’d recognize this person as a fellow member of the human race and join forces. You’d forget to fear your differences in fearing a common enemy.

So, forget the invading ETs for a moment. Forget the differences between you and the human fighting beside you. What’s left? A fellow human being, with a desire to be safe and to protect the safety of loved ones.

Image via pixabay/41330

Let’s talk a bit more about this person, the one beside you. This person probably desires good health and happiness, wants to love and be loved. Correct? Don’t we all, right down to our cores? Then, what makes us forget these common needs and hopes? Anger and distance, maybe, but mostly fear.

Fear comes from a lack of knowledge. An inability to understand.

I think of the modern world, spewing hate across the internet. It reminds me a bit of road rage. People who would run each other off the road for minor driving infractions would be a lot less likely to get into a fist fight if they annoyed one another in person. They’d be far, far less likely if they knew a few things about each other, on a personal level. Things like the other’s most cherished memory or children’s names or favorite pizza topping.

Same goes for all this political opposition. It’s not easy to get to know each and every one of our philosophical opposites on a personal level, but it might help to remember that much of our opposers’ anger or apparent hatred is coming from a place of fear. Name it what you will, it’s coming from the same place of fear we hold within ourselves. Remember: we all want to be safe and ensure the safety of our loved ones, don’t we?

Image via Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures

The only way to combat such fear, to keep it in check, keep it from consuming our better thoughts and impulses, is to seek understanding. Seek to know your opposer, or the person who’s beside you, the one who seems so “different.” Approach them on a human level, and you will grow. Learn whatever you can and do your best to recognize a fellow human being behind the words and ideologies. You may still disagree with your opposer’s point of view, but the mind-numbing, sense-obliterating anger won’t be there.

Hatred cannot exist in a place of true understanding, which means, in effect, you win. You have overcome your real enemy, and that is fear.

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