Sunday Firesides: Love Your Enemy

We can all learn something from the Blackfoot Sioux.

The “love your enemies verse” is a scripture that is often taken out of context. It does not mean to love the enemy, but to love those who are in our way. This scripture can be found in Luke 6:27-36.

Following the Second Punic War, Roman people constructed many monuments of Hannibal, which have stood for centuries.

Hannibal. For a decade and a half, the brutal Carthaginian commander who initiated the war held much of southern Italy and tortured Romans.

Ancient Romans had a connection with their foes that was defined by both violent hatred and heartfelt adoration, as is typical of an honor-based society. Hannibal’s ability to inspire fear and disgust did not stop him from inspiring admiration. In fact, the Roman historian Livy attributes more virtus — manliness — to Hannibal than he did to Scipio, the Roman commander who ultimately vanquished the Carthaginians.

The Romans admired Hannibal, but they also admired what he accomplished for them. “Virtus shrivels without an antagonist,” Seneca stated. That is, without someone to push against, perfection cannot be accomplished; by being such a worthy, difficult foe, Hannibal had ignited the Romans’ finest powers, giving them their most beautiful combat.

As a result, the conquerors proudly erected statues of the defeated, memorials to the kind of adversary they were capable of conquering. 

When we hear the expression “love your enemy,” we often think of Jesus’ advice to demonstrate compassion even for those we dislike. But it may also be used in a very other context.

We may appreciate the function that a “enemy” plays in our life, whether it is an external competition or an internal flaw. 

We can see that we’d be unmoored, enervated, non-entities if we didn’t have the gravity of strength-building resistance.

We may be grateful for opposition’s refining role: Thank you for exposing my flaws; for keeping me humble; for teaching me how not to be; for igniting a fire in my belly; for making me better than I was.