I awoke in the wee dark hours of the morning, just moments before an Instagram friend, Ayman, made a post.
I say Instagram friend, but I really don’t know her. I do not even remember how we ended up following each other. One of us probably made a comment the other liked on a mutual “friends” post and hit follow. Then the other did the polite thing and returned the follow. Life in our social media culture. But, it doesn’t matter. I am glad we follow each other, I do like her posts. Anyway…..
I awoke in a contemplative mood (writerly mood some say). Moments later she made a post that dove-tailed my thoughts, and here they are.
I love my enemies.
Not because any religion or God says I should or must. No I love my enemies in the Blackfoot way.
Once many years ago I met a man who was Blackfoot. In our short conversation he taught me much about the Blackfoot. Though I have forgotten most of his words and even what he looked like, I have remembered two things he taught me.
First, the Blackfoot are not a tribe, but a confederation of seven tribes.
Second, the Blackfoot measure the greatness of a man by the greatness of his enemies. At the time I did not understand just how profound that truly is.
Now I am not talking about someone who believes every bad rumor about you and gleefully passes it along. That person, for one reason or another, is jealous of you. They want to see your downfall because they feel that somehow it will increase their own stature or stop their own feeling of inadequacy.
I am also not talking about the person who has decided you are now persona non grata because you called them on their bullshit. That person has underestimated your intelligence, your worth, or both.
Neither of those people really KNOW you, and they never will. They can’t. They only know you as a reflection of themselves. Only those things in you that directly impact their self-image are even noticed by them. It is nothing personal.
Actually, the low regard both of those people have for you, has nothing to do with you. So get over it, it is not personal. Both of these people are convinced they know you like the back of their hand. They don’t. Which is why you surprise them (though they would never admit it), with your words and deeds from time to time.
So who am I talking about?
I am talking about a person who really, truly, knows you. They get you. They know your core beliefs, your core values, they see you. Not just your public image most people get. When you do or say something, they are not surprised. If truth be told, they probably could have predicted it.
It is those core principals of yours that they don’t like. They dislike you because of what they stand for.
Those last two sentences? Means they have core values and principals that guide them as well. It also means your core values clash with their core values someplace on the list.
There are only two people in this world who will ever surprise you. Those you see as family & friends, and a principled enemy.
Those who are close to you are the only ones who can betray you. Their betrayal, if it happens, will surprise you and hurt you deeply.
How can a principled enemy surprise you?
A principled enemy will surprise you at those moments when they defend you!
Defend you? Not going to happen! They are an enemy, they will never defend you!
Au contraire my friend!
We are not talking about someone who is jealous of you, nor are we talking about someone who is upset because you caught them on and called them on their bullshit. No, we are talking about a principled enemy who dislikes you because your values clash with their values.
Those petty people? They will take any victory over you they can, and if it includes things that are not true. Then so much the better.
Ah, but the principled enemy. It matters a great deal to them. Yes, they want to defeat you, yes they oppose you. But they want to defeat you on their principles vs. your principles. So, when the situation has played you false. The principled enemy will watch and wait. When no one else comes to your defense, your principled enemy will. No, you are not friends now. Yes, they still want to defeat you. But they want to defeat you fair and square, they want to defeat you because somewhere on the list your core values clash, and because you are preventing them from their goals, they are preventing you from your goals, or both.
A principled enemy is worth your respect. Principled enemies are also rare. Only a principled enemy will push you and make you reflect on your core beliefs. Only the principled enemy will make you stronger and teach you WHY your values are your values. The principled enemy will challenge you right down to the very foundations of what you believe. They will force you to know what you believe and why. A principled enemy will force you to stand on your convictions or change them, even if you do so alone. You cannot be a weak person if you have a great enemy.
Why the Blackfoot measure the greatness of a man by the greatness of his enemies.
Have a good day my friend.
And may all your enemies be great men (or women).