Becoming whole through family life. Desserts help.
Anita Chiappini told my best friend, Mary Beth, to meet her behind the school for a fight. So Mary Beth and all of us did. And Anita and all of them did. And a bunch of neutral onlookers did. And we won. And none of them ever asked to meet any of us after school for a fight again. Junior high school years are filled with brutal clarity. Everyone knew exactly who their enemies were.
As time went on, clarity became hazy under the guise of maturity and adulthood. Fist fights turned into sophisticated verbal jousts and subtle physical maneuvers like sneaky lashes of a whip while walking through a house of mirrors.
Floating from one cultural extreme to another, we are tempted to either see a broad generic group, some Other, as the enemy or deny that any enemy exists at all. The first can lead to irrational anger and ineffectual bullying. The other can lead to a victimhood of nice.
“Never underestimate the enemy” presumes that I at least know I have enemies! Next, I must find a way to distinguish enemies, one by one, from my friends and the neutral masses as quickly as possible.
My personal working definition of enemy is: An enemy is someone who doesn’t want my good. A near rephrasing is someone who is willing to harm me, take from me, or wants my failure. The “customer service” representative who stonewalls, denying help I need doesn’t want my good. The “friend” who gossips behind my back, is willing to harm my reputation. The “agency” that oversteps its authority to take what is rightfully mine, wants my power. The “relative” who undermines my family goals, wants my failure.
Anita Chiappini didn’t want Mary Beth’s good, but was at least upfront about it. Mary Beth took Anita on, not underestimating the importance to stand up for herself. The outcome was clear and eventually transforming. While my friends and Anita’s friends never became friends, we did stop being enemies and gained a healthy respect for each other. I pine for such clarity and resolution among adults.
Gray Stripe Earned: Identify enemies quickly and with confidence.