Both Buddhism and Christianity suggest love for those I think of as my enemies.
Who do I think of as enemies? Much is made of the political divisions in our country at the moment. They are outward signs of inner philosophical differences. I want government policy to take care of “the least of these.” I think folks on the other side of the divide stress personal responsibility and want the government to take care of national defense and infrastructure, while shoring up healthy business climates. Each side demonizes the other.
Many of the thinkers to whom I listen are emphasizing gracious listening and respectful discussion. They advise me to meet with those who disagree with me and practice. Of course, as I am what my mother used to call a “shut in,” I can do neither. I could, if I were willing to spend the time and energy, surf websites of “the other side,” with intent to increase my understanding of them. Honestly, I’m not willing.
How can I love without spending time and energy? I can’t, of course. In a way, that’s what love is – dedicating hours and effort to understand and appreciate the other. Even with my limitations, I can resolve to:
- seek out media that increase my understanding of “the other side”
- challenge my own depersonalization/demonization thinking
- speak up when I notice others speaking of “them” disrespectfully
- support organizations and events that bring all of us together
- include them in my loving kindness meditations
Identifying my enemies in order to find ways to challenge my status quo and love them is part of what I want this kind promise (“I will love without keeping score”) to do for me.
Who are your enemies? Do you want to love them? If so, how will you go about it?