through my enemy’s eyes

this is my new bible:

through my enemy’s eyes
by troy chapman, yes! magazine

here’s some pieces of it:

But my continuing inward growth demanded a corresponding outward growth—a change in my view of the world. It started with the recognition that my activism wasn’t very different from my earlier anger. In fact, my anger had crept back in, only now it was wrapped up in the sense that I was doing good and fighting evil. I hadn’t gotten rid of my anger at all, only justified it. I still had enemies, was still locked in opposition to them, and I still wanted to win, to destroy them. I’d moved from seeking my enemies’ physical destruction to seeking political, intellectual, social, and philosophic destruction, but it was still about enemies. My activism, like my previous thinking, was very dualistic.

I developed the ability to see things through the eyes of my enemies. I saw in them the same fear that had so long governed me. The same confusion, the same grasping for security, the same hunger for love. I saw their humanity, and this ruined me as a warrior.

I had spent most of my life splitting the world up into two sides, then fighting to defend one against the other. It was a game in which there were strategies, a clear objective, a field of play, and an opponent. The game has rules and no matter which side we’re on, we’re bound by the rules. The poet Rumi pointed to something beyond this game when he said, “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

When I began to see myself in others—even in my enemies—I found myself heading for Rumi’s field. Here the game is not a game. No one wins unless and until everyone wins. The line between victim and perpetrator no longer runs between “I” and “Other.” It now runs right through the center of my soul. I am both, as we are all both.

“I have no need of an enemy,” and I’ve been telling the world that ever since. Whenever I catch myself thinking of someone as an enemy I ask, “What in me am I trying to avoid or distract myself from?” Inevitably I find my own impotence, my own frustrations, my insignificance, my sense that nothing I do will ever really matter. Ultimately I find my own mortality and the seeming futility of most human endeavor. I find my own self-absorption, my resistance to setting myself aside and truly caring about the other.


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