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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Unknown Knowns - Friends and Enemies

Remember your parents asking you whether you made friends in school? Remember when you asked your children if they made friends at school? We do not even wonder why we ask such things. It only occurred to me because I was writing a blog about the opposite phenomenon - enemies. Why are parents so concerned when children are loners? Why are friendships that important?

I suppose that for most - if not all - parents, the importance of friendships must be an 'unknown known' - or human knowledge based on intuition. As a parent we subconsciously know that friendships are crucial for the development of our children into adults. We urge our children to play with other children although we know that our children will get hurt - either emotionally or physically.

This hurt at a young age is minor compared to the hurt that we often face as an adult. Nevertheless it may feel the same or worse to a young child. Social contact amongst young children is probably crucial in their survival as an adult. Friendships amongst children is minor compared to alliances amongst nations although essentially a similar feature. In that context, friendships are probably crucial in our emotional and physical survival.

As an adult, friends and enemies are about trust and betrayal, respect and contempt, love and hate. Certain events in our lives can turn friends into enemies (eg, break-up, divorce). Even enemies can turn into friends: eg, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. As a child we hardly know the concept of an enemy. Usually we refer to them as 'bullies' who are 'mean' to us. Nevertheless, 'enemies' are people who love to hate and whom we love to hate - whether as an adult or a child.

Friends and enemies both serve a purpose - as a child and as an adult. The purpose of an enemy is much easier to define: it unites people (eg, citizens) and directs an intense negative emotion to that entity (eg, government, politics, religion), people (eg, Jews, Kurds), or person (eg, your ex partner). I suppose that the purpose of a friend is to share - goods, information, money, time and also love.

While friendships only give energy, enemies initially give energy but later consume energy. Having enemies for a too long period of time can drain all of your energy. There is another striking difference: friendships are genuine and mutual and enemies can be imaginary and unilateral.

An enemy is largely a concept that we create ourselves in order to simplify the world around us. PT: "[] this research suggests that people create enemies in order to maintain a stable, coherent, clear view of the world. This is because they can attribute the negatives of the world (which are inevitable) to these enemies. Having enemies even appears to make people feel, ironically, safer".

Losing a friend is hard but losing an enemy is even harder. We embrace a friend and turn our backs towards the enemy. Showing compassion to a friend is the right thing to do and showing mercy to an enemy is wrong. We love to love our friends and we love to hate our enemies.

Donna Summer (1948-2012) - Love to Love You Baby (1975) - lyrics, Wiki-1Wiki-2


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