Why we should love our enemies
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?
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.
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.
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
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.