Converting Our Enemies To Friends

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Google Buzz Send Gmail Post to LinkedIn Post to Squidoo Post to StumbleUpon Post to Technorati

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. – Abraham Lincoln

We often hear people speak of finding “common ground” when debating contentious issues. But even when opposing political factions find common ground, it is the areas where they disagree that perpetuate political divides.

Resolving disagreement by finding common ground is a myth. What resolves conflict is a more thorough understanding of those we disagree with. Understanding why our opponent believes what they believe is much more important than seeing similarities in our beliefs.  Understanding the values of our enemy helps us to either help them achieve those values or to understand what we can or cannot do to create a better relationship. Once we understand the other person, we can acknowledge their goodness, and retreat from thinking of them as wholly evil.

What makes a friendship? Is it shared values, is it common interests? Of course, but it is more. Good friends are people we trust. We trust them because they focus on what is good about us, and not what is bad.

Our local community, city, state and national governments, politics in general, and foreign affairs are all relationships that we navigate as humans. We as a nation need to extrapolate the values of what makes a good personal friendship and extend it to other areas of our political system where we interact as fellow human beings. I need not agree with everything others do, but neither do I need to consider those who I disagree with as evil enemies.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama was criticized for saying he would dialogue with our enemies as a political outreach.  He seemed to understand this principle that dialogue leads to understanding, which will break down the barriers between nations. If we won’t speak to an enemy, there is no way that we will ever show them enough respect of their values to breach those issues that divide us.

In the end, all people have shared values of physical and financial security, faith, and fear of death and destruction. That should be a starting point to understand those we call our enemies, and the more we understand their true motivations, the less they will be seen as a threat to our own needs.

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to Google Buzz Send Gmail Post to LinkedIn Post to Squidoo Post to StumbleUpon Post to Technorati

About The Pluralist Advocate

The Pluralist Advocate started out this life in a conservative Military oriented community, and he later moved to that bastion of liberal activism called the San Francisco Bay Area. Having lived both ends of the political spectrum he has a unique understanding of both sides of most issues. He was also very religious growing up, serving as a studying the Christian scriptures and even spending some time as a foreign missionary. He used to think he had all the answers to life's greatest questions, but the more he looks around the world, the more he finds a wide variety of different values that work for different people. This blog is an exploration of thought and consideration from as many points of view as can be held at one time. He now holds the position that truth is found in many different disciplines. You may know the Pluralist Advocate around the web and twitter as brihartwell, or his given name of Brian Hartwell. He hates to be narrowly defined by one title, so as you read these musings you may find things you identify with, and others that you despise. That is good. Please share your reactions to the thoughts here and we will all grow together.