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“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” -Winston Churchill

Do you really need enemies to validate your stance on a subject? While being passionate about a topic may mean voicing a stance that might be in direct contrast to another person’s passionate stance and therefore creating a naturally confrontational relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have to further develop the relationship that way. When presented with information that you don’t agree with please don’t disregard it, throw a label on the other person, and chalk them up as nonsensical. In today’s world of heightened tensions and a country seemingly dividing itself in all subjects, it’s important to teach ourselves to rephrase opposing stances as opinions formed on another person’s perception of the topic at hand based on their limitations of access to certain information, environmental stimuli, and personal needs.

People, in general, want to be revered as good and tend to gravitate towards ideas that support their vision of the greatest good for them, their families, and their communities. It’s our human nature to see how our actions affect those that we interact with and for us to take a vested interest in impacting those people’s lives. However, when we become aware of people outside our community making decisions that affect those lives in which we have a vested interest we tend to get defensive and are more likely to take an adverse stance to anything presented by the outside party. Being cognizant of this defensive mechanism is crucial to expanding our communities and finding solutions that work to everyone’s benefit. This tendency is also the greatest source of tension that left untreated will lead to the development of enemies.

When we run into someone with other ideas hear them out. Take notice of your biases, preconceptions of them or their stance, and instead of trying to impose your stance on the other person try to identify the sources that led to the development of the different stances and aim to shape a new view with your newfound insight and broader, more developed perception.
When you notice someone putting in this type of effort it’s hard to think ill of them. To take a metaphor from Avatar: The Last Airbender, this kind of effort acts as the water from the shore washing up and smoothing the stones on the beach of ember island, washing the friction away.

In conclusion, having enemies doesn’t necessarily mean you stand for something. Having enemies more likely points towards your unwillingness to widen your perception, apply empathy, and develop your own understandings. While having enemies is not something to avoid at all costs, it should never be the goal.

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