A Potent Weapon
Bernie Siegel


Why we should love our enemies

We need to learn to love ourselves so we can love others.  But which others?  Our families and friends-- that's obvious.  But does it really matter whether we love people outside our immediate circle?  Is there any reason to love our enemies?  How about the people who hurt us and our loved ones?

There is just one answer to questions about whom we must love:  everyone.  We cannot pick and choose.  If we want true peace of mind, we must try to love all living beings.

Consider what seems to be an extreme case first:  people who wrong you or want to hurt you.  Jesus said, "Love your enemies."  Why did he give us such strange advice?  He wasn't just urging us to be noble or righteous.  He advised us to love our enemies because he understood that love is the great obliterator.  Love is never destructive.  It never harms anyone, but it does obliterate and eliminate.  When you love your enemies, they don't exist anymore.  You haven't ended their lives, but you have eliminated them as enemies.  You have killed them with the most potent weapons:  kindness and love.

Love is more powerful and much harder to handle than anger.

If that seems like an odd statement, try using love nest time you are in a difficult situation.  Anger is easy to use and people know how to respond to it--usually with more anger.  But try using love and see how powerful its effect is on your adversary.

I have seen the effects of love in many difficult situations.  Once when a psychotic patient was screaming obscenities at me, I looked him in the eye and said, "I love you."  He stopped yelling and returned to his room and closed the door.  When angry flight attendants argued with me over the size of our luggage, I said, "I need your love," and they helped me carry our luggage aboard and stow it.  When a young man, angry over the heavy traffic, was screaming obscenities at me through my open car window, I said, "I am sorry you have not been loved, but I love you."  He ran back to his car and drove away.

I saw a woman with breast cancer learn about the power of love.  She'd grown up in an abusive, alcoholic family and felt bitterness towards her parents.  She had been a difficult adolescent, and her parents were as angry at her as she was at them.  When the young woman developed cancer, she changed her attitude and decided to love her parents in spite of the harm they'd done to her.  Her mother moved into her home, and every morning as the young woman left for work she would tell her mother she loved her.  The mother never answered.  One morning, after three months of saying, "I love you," the daughter was late for work and rushed out of the house.  Her mother followed her to the door and yelled out to her, "You forgot something."  "What did I forget?" the woman asked.  "You forgot to say I love you."  She returned, they cried, embraced, and healed.

Love has a warming effect on even the coldest of hearts.  Hatred never does anyone any good.  It is bad for the hated and worse for the hater.  Love is good for both the lover and the loved.  Use love in good health and remember, when you find yourself confronting enemies, to do what Norman Vincent Peale did.  When he died in his nineties, someone said about him, "He outlived his enemies."  The response was, "No, he outloved them."

This book is a continuation of the work I began when I became Bernie. It is a collection of stories about how to deal with life's difficulties. Most of the people in these stories have not had the great wake-up call; that is, they are mot facing life-threatening illnesses. So in a sense, this book is preventive medicine. It is a prescription for living that gives you effective and healthy ways of dealing with the adversity that occurs in everyone's life.


When love fills your life all limitations are gone.
The medicine this sick world needs so badly is love.

Peace Pilgrim


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