…In The World

…In The World

When I was a kid, I attended the funeral of a family member (whose name I sadly cannot recall). Amongst all of the requisite sadness, pontificating, and memorializing, I remember my mother saying something. She said, in reference to the departed family member in question, that “he didn’t have an enemy in the world.”
I took that phrase to heart, and decided it was something worth pursuing as a personal goal. As I’ve grown, however, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it never had any weight behind it. I realize it’s not my mom’s saying, that the expression has likely been around in some iteration since the first caveman eulogized his friend’s passing: “Og not look where going, Woolly Mammoth splat Og. Now have no hunting buddy. Og not have enemy in world. Miss Og.”
I don’t know if we just comfort ourselves with the notion that someone we love was also universally loved by others, but I can honestly say that I do not recall a single soul who didn’t have an enemy in the world somewhere. Hell, there are people out there who don’t like Mr. Rogers, a man whose entire life was built around professing a gentler form of love, kindness, and friendship where everyone was welcome to partake.
I’m not trying to piss on anyone’s memories. There are people I love dearly, who have passed, and the idea that someone would hate them bothers me immensely. It’s just this phrase decided to poke its head out of the aether in my brain, and bring its existence to the forefront of my attention.
It could be said that while no person who has ever lived, or ever will live, has no enemies, and will have no enemies, some might say we could judge that person by the types of enemies they had. If you’re hated by people who like to harm others, it speaks well of you, in general. Still, does that really tell us anything? I try to be a kind, decent person, but I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that I have enemies who are actually really nice people. Somewhere in this world is a group of nuns who loathe my existence for some reason.
I don’t think it’s a recent development, but I do think that social media has helped make others aware of the fact. Whereas 30 years ago, you might not have an enemy in the world (as far as you knew), these days you will know it, and you will know it in explicit detail, and it will be shared and reposted dozens of times by others, who may also hate your guts for some reason.
It’s easy, these days, to make enemies. As we put more faith in the wisdom of the mob, I think we lose the ability to perceive nuance, while amplifying the worst in each other. As a result, the term “friend” becomes watered down, and “enemy” becomes anything and anyone that does not fall into a very rigid definition of absolutism. George W. Bush once said “you’re either with us or against us,” and while he wasn’t the first to say it, he’s a recent and notable example of someone who has said it.
Some like to say that if you have enemies, it means you stood for something, but we know that isn’t necessarily so. There are people who have enemies because they didn’t stand for something. There are people who have enemies because of the shirt they wore, or the show they watch on television. That’s right, the reasons you have enemies may range from “robbed a bank” to “watched Gilligan’s Island instead of Stranger Things.”
As is stands, right now you are just as likely to be excoriated for buying organic vegetables, as you are for setting fire to a puppy daycare. We seem to have lost our ability to moderate and modulate. There’s no longer a need to de-escalate in order to gauge the situation, rather it’s much more common for everyone to dive in and pile on with reckless abandon. My theory on that is, I think, people are entertainment now, whether they want to be or not. We are all living ways in which to pass the time.
We jump at every opportunity to chastise others, and in that no one is immune. Decades ago, a longtime friend might pull you aside and ask if you’re okay if you suddenly said something that would be considered controversial. Nowadays, that same longtime friend might end up ripping you to shreds in front of thousands of witnesses, your news feed filled with comments from others who aren’t even involved, and with friends like that, who needs enemies?
Just something to consider.

2 thoughts on “…In The World

  1. Social media has made it easier to find targets and others who will help you pile on that target. It’s one big middle school cafeteria where sitting at the wrong table results in years of bullying from the mean kids. I’ve concluded that most adults are adult in age only, not in mental and/or emotional maturity.

    1. Amen to that. I thought after high school I would enter a world of maturity and professionalism. Nothing destroys that image faster than seeing the President of the United States call people bad hombres and tweet about pussies at 3 AM.

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