“enemy” I mean the person or persons other than us who we feel or think
are hurting us or, at the least, wishing us ill. Also, an enemy can
refer to something bigger than persons, such as a whole nation or group
of nations-which I hope to be able to talk about later in this post-but
what I have in mind when thinking about how valuable an enemy can be are
more or less limited to dynamics that arise from interpersonal
relations. If we suspect that the enemy is so driven by hate that he or
she wants us physically dead, that can be addressed by another article,
but probably not here, or not now. Another word of caution: it is
possible that the one we tag as enemy would likely have the same thought
about us: we are rubbish to him or her. In other words, emotions of
mutual disdain are likely to be shown by persons who imagine themselves
to be having enemies.
In that context I wish to proceed to say
that one of the most obvious benefits we can have from an enemy is
we-defamed and all-get to know (in high definition and on large screens)
what our weaknesses and shortcomings are.
With that contention I wish to elaborate on three things.
although we know who we are and what we do, we often need confirmation
from other people to feel secured or to reach a certain level of
comfort. If there is issue about our negative side, we hardly get this
confirmation from friends. But with enemies, we get it for free. A basic
example of how this process of confirmation works: I know I am
arrogant, condescending and hard-headed. With friends, I am likely to
get 4-star, instead of 3-star, ratings or reviews. I feel good and
continue to live my life being arrogant, condescending and hard-headed,
confident in my belief that I am doing great by being what I am. But
with enemies, the world get to know that I am not only arrogant but also
a bully, a spoiled brat and one who has violent tendencies; not only
condescending but one who is more like an idiot; not only hard-headed
but one who bristles when challenged.
The painful words we hear
from people who speak ill of us are, from our perspective, often
libelous. How we react to them can neither be right or wrong, but will
probably indicate how we appreciate the value of an enemy. Examples:
- File a lawsuit, in defense of our honor;
- We can always reject and return insults (with added venom) to the sender; or
- Accept the “gift,” no matter how outlandish the content or outsized the wrapping.
That last point brings me to the second argument for why we derive
benefits from enemies at no cost. As suggested at the outset, enemies
are in pain. When they bring out caricatures of people they hate, they
often exaggerate. This means that what people say about us may not
necessarily be inaccurate; but their use of figurative speech (either in
Latin, Greek, English, Tagalog, etc.) may make them baseless or even
repugnant. Otherwise, exaggeration, when used positively, is music to
all. Example: “Happy birthday to the best daddy in the world!”
when an enemy calls me names and tells me I made a life-long career out
of being a prostitute, he or she is probably stressing the fact that at
some point in my life I offered false testimonies in exchange of a high
position in government.
That said, I am glad that the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines, through Lingayen Archbishop
Socrates Villegas, its President, has recently called the Catholic
Church to critically self-examine itself in view of President Rodrigo
Duterte’s tirade against the institution.
And that “self-examination”, said Archbishop Villegas, must begin among the Church leaders.
represents a slight departure from gestures of recent months where
bishops would quickly dismiss Mr. Duterte as a publicly-decorated
nuisance, or something that looks like it. This, to me, is a sign of
acknowledging that in a dump of cabbages and kings, something good can
come out of an arrogant, condescending and hard-headed enemy.
The third point is about subjecting ourselves to a process that can make us better persons. Studies about organizations show that there is value in “criticism and self-criticism.” For example, researchers Dan Lovallo Olivier Sibony have suggested that nominating a “Devil’s Advocate” is one of three elements that constitutes an effective decision-making process.
most effective decision-making processes embraced contrarian critiques.
Yet in many executive boardrooms dissension can be viewed as analogous
to treason. An effective way to circumvent this very human reaction is
to institutionalize the role of Devil’s Advocate. Essentially, someone
should be nominated to poke holes in the team’s assumptions and
strategies. By re-framing dissent as valuable, the Devil’s Advocate can
help the team arrive at better decisions without becoming a pariah.
Doing so also has the added benefit of normalizing useful but critical
feedback by mitigating the fear of reprisal.
With this further advice:
Clearly, the sort of
decision-making process outlined above can be demanding and
time-consuming. The recommendation then is to employ it only when faced
with those infrequent, non-routine, strategically significant decisions
with which executive teams are confronted from time to time – in other
words, the decisions that pose a significant opportunity for, and threat
to, the organization’s future.
More on the Devil’s Role
successful organizations spend good money for the services of an
“enemy”, one who says nothing but negative things about them. The idea
is obvious: when we know everything that can be said negatively about
ourselves, we have the option of addressing any which way we like
whatever perceived issues there maybe about us. If we are in commerce,
this puts us ahead of the competition.
The idea of creating an
enemy in the person of a Devil’s Advocate (Advocatus Diaboli) came from
the Catholic Church in its “human” effort to enhance its beautification
and canonization process. Although in practice since 1524, the Office of
the Promoter of the Faith (Promotor Fidei), the official title of the
Devil’s advocate, was formally established only in 1587 by Sixtus V. The
Promotor Fidei took a juridical position against the canonization of
any given saint, in effect taking the devil’s part in the proceedings,
which then gave rise to the monicker Devil’s Advocate.
Lambertini, who assumed the role of a Devil’s Advocate for 20 years
before he became Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758), highlighted the level of
scrutiny candidates were put under. He explained that there might be a
need to ask whether a candidate for sainthood had any serious character
defects, suggesting that inquisitors should see if they might be selfish
motives in even their good deeds. Affirmed by Church tradition, he
further insisted that every act and motive must be questioned, no matter
how slight. While no saint is absolutely perfect, the Promotor Fidei’s
job was to insist that those raised to the sacred dignity of sainthood
should be as perfect as possible.
John Paul II (1978-2005)
abolished the Office of Promoter of the Faith in 1983, but the rigor of
the process remains until today.
As aspiritual mortals, we find it
hard to understand what Jesus Christ meant when he said “Love your
enemies.” And yet, as everyday experiences can tell us, we sometimes
realize that enemies can make us stronger and better persons.
this basic teaching into action is even harder. Mahatma Gandhi of India
(1869-1948), whose country was being ravaged by Christian British
colonizers, said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Former US President
Barack Obama, then a Senator, was once reported as having suggested that
the Christian faith cannot hold a country together.
Obama referred to the Sermon of the Mount, “a
collection of sayings and teachings credited to Jesus, which emphasizes
his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and
7). The Sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking found
in the New Testament; it includes some of the best known teachings of
Jesus, such as the Beatitudes, and the widely recited Lord’s Prayer.” In Matthew 5:43-28:20, the Lord urges his followers to love their enemies.
Obama is correct, one wonders why countries can’t be brought down to
the level of a community where its members live like friends or, yes,
Maybe what we need is to erase all ideas related to a
country or nation, and replace them with one where all peoples simply
consider themselves “citizens of the world.”
Join Inkdrops in its wild chase for that draft rules constituting a new world order. Write your comments below.