Someone has been bullying you for the past few weeks. The bully shoves you onto the ground, and you collapse to the floor with a “bam”. You swallow your anger, and ask yourself: “ How do I respond?” Do you get up and supply him with a great loving hug, meaning that you forgive him? Or do you rise up from the ground and land a punch on his face? He is your enemy after all. “No.” You think. You decide to do the peculiar and unexpected thing. You decide to do the right thing as it is seen through the loving eyes of God. You stand up with great audacity and confront him with … A hug. Nothing really matters to you. All that matters is that you did the right thing. The enemy has just been destroyed. And by what? By love. A smile stretches across your face as he embraces you back. You think to yourself: “ This is the best way to respond to the injustices that your enemy places in life for you. By loving him deeply.”
By loving your enemy, you are eradicating the hate in his/heart, as well as the hate in yours. Jesus says in Matthew 5:44-45 from the Bible: “ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” President Abraham Lincoln was greatly influenced by this Biblical verse. During the Civil War, hatred was established between the North and the South. President Abraham Lincoln was harshly criticized for speaking of philanthropic treatment for the Southern rebels.The critic reminded Lincoln that there was a war going on and that the confederates were the enemy. He prodded that they should be destroyed. Lincoln wisely responded “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”(Fisher). While Lincoln could have responded with an agreement to the idea proposed, he refused to annihilate his enemies and instead responded with a proposed intention to make his enemies his friends. In distinction from Abraham Lincoln, some people merely hate their enemies. Hating your enemies only arouses more trouble. As seen in the memoir Night, Elie Wiesel recounts that after receiving a severe beating from their squad leader, Idek, Elie is angry and has hate for Idek uppermost in his mind. A French girl calms down his anger before Elie takes irrational actions. “ -And then her face lit up and she said, in almost perfect German: “Bite your lips, little brother… Don’t cry. Keep your anger for another day, for later. The day will come but not now… Wait. Clench your teeth and wait… “ (Wiesel 53). The consequences of hating someone are very brutal. We, humans, must learn to impede illogical actions from taking place due to the temptations that are placed as an obstacle in life.
By exhibiting love towards your enemy, your self-esteem rises. Loving your enemy helps you gain confidence in yourself. It’s like: “ Wow. I decided to do the right thing as it is seen through the eyes of God. Instead of choosing “ The Path of the Violent” to respond to injustice, I used love to destroy my enemy.” To illustrate this, famous poet Edgar Allan Poe chose to forgive and love the father that always underestimated him and treated him like a nobody. In his will, he left nothing for Edgar. One of the famous quotes that is attributed to him is: “ I have great faith in fools. Self-confidence my friends call it.” ( Edgar Allan Poe). On the contrary, hating your enemy and using violence in the act of doing so makes you lose confidence in yourself. It weakens you. As Elie Wiesel delineates: “ My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man. Without love or mercy. I was nothing but ashes now…” ( Wiesel 68). Having high self-esteem is a good characteristic of a person. Self-esteem is a trait that defines a person’s character. One must always have confidence in themselves. Because if you don’t have confidence in yourself, then who will?
By demonstrating love towards your enemy, people will hold you in high regard. They will see you as a role model and not as someone who uses violence to achieve their goals. Loving our enemies affects our reputation. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s notion of violence had six key principles. The one that stands out the most among them is the first one: that one can confront evil without making use of violence. King believed in a society where everything was on the side of justice. Where if you crossed paths with the injustice of your enemies, you should love them like you do yourself ( Non-Violent Resistance). Unlike this, many people simply want to resort to violence in the way of getting rid of their enemy. In the memoir Night, Elie lives through the experience of seeing the inhuman Nazi soldiers throwing living babies into the pit full of flames ( Wiesel 32). By getting rid of your enemy, people will only see you as a merciless person. In the long run, it highly affects our reputation.
Love is what makes us humans. It is a great burden to bear to not be able to love. Not loving someone is almost impossible. If you don’t love, it will remain in our conscience for a very long time. Loving your enemies helps us with our ability to survive. This can be exemplified with Martin Luther King Jr. As a young boy, he experienced the burning of his house by the white people. When he grew up, he demonstrated love towards them. He could have simply hated them and lived on with it, but it was not so. In one of his speeches he said: “ I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” (King Encyclopedia). In contrast, for the people that don’t love, it isn’t a great burden to bear. It’s not in their conscience. And the egotistical actions of these people can only be attributed to the fact that they have no love in their life. This is seen in Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night: “ I did not weep and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!...” ( Wiesel 112). Loving our enemies greatly affects our ability to survive. Love is what makes us humans. If we don't love, we will become desperate souls that only worry about ourselves.
In the final analysis, loving our enemies is the best way to respond to the injustices that life places for us. Love is an inevitable beautiful emotion. It’s what distinguishes us from savage beasts. It’s capable of doing anything. As Ferdinand Foch once said: “ The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”