I Have No Need For An Enemy

Troy Chapman

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Awakin FeatureIn passing my sentence, the judge said, “There’s no hope that you can ever be rehabilitated.” My sentence of 60-90 years was a tragic and too predictable end of the road I’d been traveling. Quite logically, I considered taking my own life. But in the end, I determined to live. I don’t mean I decided merely not to die, but to really be alive from that point on, to embrace life and find some meaning and truth I could live by and for.

It began with me. I became obsessed with the question of what went wrong and how to set it right. I wanted to know where my brokenness started. Was it mine alone or was I one fracture in a much larger disintegration? [...] As I began to wake up, I found myself concerned for other individuals and for us as a whole. I was developing social consciousness, which soon turned into social activism.

This view served me for a while, giving me a sense of moral order. But I soon realized 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 dualistic.

Over time this dualism gave way to my hunger for simple goodness. The catalyst for this change was nothing more noble than exhaustion. I was simply tired of being angry all the time, tired of waking up every morning to a battle. I needed some rest. This need led me away from easy moral certitude. 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.

But was this the end of my activism? For a while I thought it was, for who can be an activist without decisively taking sides? How could I fight against prisons when I empathized with the jailers?

I had spent most of my life splitting the world up into two sides, then fighting to defend one against the other. The game had 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 wrongdoing and rightdoing 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.

What then is left to fight for? Where does an out-of-work activist go? Well—God is hiring and God is on the third side. Not the prisoner’s or the jailer’s side. Not the pro-choice or the pro-life side. Not the Left or the Right.

The third side is that little-represented side of healing. It’s the side that cares as much about the enemy as the friend, that says love is the only justice, the only victory there is. It does not want anyone destroyed. It does not want to win if someone else must lose. It wants something much larger than winning and losing.

Asking myself these questions I realized that enemies always serve a purpose. The war relationship is a symbiotic one in which the enemy on one side serves some need within the enemy on the other side, even while both protest this fact and claim they only fight because they have no choice.

I realized I do have a choice. Indeed, the freedom to choose how to respond may be the only total freedom we have. The world outside isn’t within our control, but this freedom always is.

I have no need for an enemy.

Excerpted from this an article, published in 2002 in Yes Magazine.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that love is the only justice? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to go to the third side of healing? What helps you see yourself in others, even your enemies?

Add Your Reflection:

14 Previous Reflections:

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    On Mar 25, 2020 jim givens wrote:
    thank you Troy.I am in the continuing process of knowing that the only enemy i have ever had is the one i see when i kook in a mirror.I believe that is where the battle has to be fought and won.Kinda like what Merton said.Happiness begins where ambition ends.

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    On Mar 16, 2020 Dhivyasree wrote:
    Love this!

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    On Mar 13, 2020 Jorie K wrote:
    It is not common to find that third way in the current American Culture in my experience. It is a practice for me which I have yet to be fully consistent in practicing . What courage Troy expresses in this powerful reflection.

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    On Mar 10, 2020 Rajalakshmi Sriram wrote:
    What a beautiful passage. I totally agreewith the author...Experienced several instances, where nurturing negativity increases insecurity and fear. Once I began to embrace all view points and people , life is enriched on an everyday basis...becoming joyful

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    On Mar 10, 2020 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:
    100% agree, love all, no exceptions. As a survivor of molestation as a child & teen, my heart has always been open to love the hurters who must have been so hurt themselves. I'm in the beginning stages of sharing a healing program with survivors & perpetrators because after all as the article says, in some way we are each of us both aspects.

    Heres to love.

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    On Mar 10, 2020 Jane Weston wrote:
    Love this piece. For me it revolved around protecting an animal - a horse - I saw the neglect and extrapolated an image of that animal into a wild anger and desire to see right prevail and cruel people to suffer. I didn't know the people involved. There was no love involved for them or the animal and no willingness to take on the horse and give it a home. All I added to the scenario was a toxic pain body all my own and an unwillingess to see that I was not always kind to my own animals. It was a momentary blow up. Later I apologisedsincerely which was accepted and kindness now prevails from both sides.

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    On Mar 9, 2020 aarthy wrote:
    With age and wisdom, I am going through the same process. Once there is love for fellow human beings we do not become vindictive. We become more forgiving which brings a lot of peace for onself. You are happy with yourself and not built with pressure. The more we give, the more we receive. In the words of St Francis, Is it in pardoning that we are pardoned

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    On Mar 9, 2020 Rupai Bhuva wrote:
    What I summarised out of the passage was that I have an enemy as long as I live in a world with polarity. The black and white colours represent polarities and when they are merged together, polarities are dissolved to enter that third field of awareness which is shown as a flame.



    Click on the image for higher-res photo.

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    On Mar 7, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    For me, the notion that love is the only justice means love is realizing that we are one, there is no me/us and them, there is only us, and what I do to the so called other, be it hurtful or kind, I do to myself. That is built in justice. The third side is awareness that I and the so called other are one, and that awareness and living it is healing. Years ago, I was cheated out of some money by a colleague. I harbored anger for a long time until I began to be aware that I had qualities like the qualities I resented in my colleague, until I became aware that I cooperated in my being cheated, and until I became aware that I and he are one. With such awareness I went to the third side, which is healing. For me, it's not that I see myself in others -- it's that I and the other are one. What helps me be aware that we are one is being open to that awareness, allowing myself to make that awareness part of me, and experiencing satisfaction and peace as a result of that awareness.

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    On Mar 6, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    We see man-created sides in many areas of our life such as social, political, economic and religious. We often draw lines between us and them. The other on the other side becomes our enemy. We fight for justice by seeing the other our enemy. We create such walls and fight for our side which we consider always right. This a dualistic perspective -"me" against " you", love against hate. There is the third Transcendental perspective that helps me to see the other as me and me as the other. Love is the core teaching of all Wisdom traditions. When we relate to ourselves and others with love and compassion we see others as me. This is the meeting place as the Sufi poet Says, "Out beyond ideas of wrong -doing and right- dong there is a field. I will meet you there." Living this way liberates me from dividing myself within me and between myself and others in my life. This way of living creates harmony, peace and love within me. Living this way I become the citize... [View Full Comment] We see man-created sides in many areas of our life such as social, political, economic and religious. We often draw lines between us and them. The other on the other side becomes our enemy. We fight for justice by seeing the other our enemy. We create such walls and fight for our side which we consider always right. This a dualistic perspective -"me" against " you", love against hate. There is the third Transcendental perspective that helps me to see the other as me and me as the other. Love is the core teaching of all Wisdom traditions. When we relate to ourselves and others with love and compassion we see others as me. This is the meeting place as the Sufi poet Says, "Out beyond ideas of wrong -doing and right- dong there is a field. I will meet you there."

    Living this way liberates me from dividing myself within me and between myself and others in my life. This way of living creates harmony, peace and love within me. Living this way I become the citizen of the world. As an Indian poet sings, " The whole universe is my family."

    s I was growing up in India I saw the power of living truthfully and non-
    violently, compassionately and selflessly manifested by Mahatma Gandhi. He
    was an embodiment of love, compassion , and truth. He related to the British rulers non-violently even though he was behindthe bars many times in his life. He has had a strong and benevolent impact on me as I was passing through youthful years on my life.

    The stream of loving kindness has continued flowing as I am passing through the last phase of my life.Practicing Karma Yoga-Yoga of selfless action or Yoga of selfless service, Bhakti Yoga- Yoga of pure love and devotion and daily meditation-practicing Raja Yoga, introspection and contemplation keeps me on the on track of " Right Living."
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'
    [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Mar 5, 2020 Mariette wrote:
    Ha! Another thought popped in. When my cousin was murdered a few years ago, within 36 hours, I had moved from disbelief all the way to acceptance (with the loving companionate support of maximum-security prison residents, by the way). Within 36 hours, I found myself sending love and compassion to these people who murdered, whom we'll likely never know their identity. And this continues: every time I think of my cousin, I send these folks love. I know this is the fastest most direct way I can heal the cycle. It won't bring my cousin back but it can prevent it from happening again. This is loving your "enemy" (though I don't see them as such).

    2 replies: Mariette, George | Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 5, 2020 Mariette wrote:
    Wow... Troy captures the mission of Brilliance Inside: to heal society's cycle of violence. And it started the same place he did: in prison. I bring love's healing ways every day into prison and I've seen its impact: people that society calls monsters -some who have been in the news -becoming ferocious advocates of change by love. And I'm blessedto be expanding the ripple effect of this transformative approach in Thailand prison system now. Thank you for amplifying the voices of the unheard so that we can learn from their courageous journeys to healing.

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