Dear America: Make No One Your Enemy

“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” – Proverbs 24:17

Despite our political differences, we must learn to literally and figuratively shake hands with our opponents.

Despite our political differences, we must learn to literally and figuratively shake hands with our opponents.

Alexander Woodcock, Staff Writer

In the time I have spent as one of the political reporters for Sutton High News, I have covered many political occurrences throughout the United States. I have gone from 24-hour news to the Supreme Court, from Massachusetts ballot questions to political satire.

In every one of these articles, at least in part, a political issue was being discussed. And I would like to, in what very well may be my final article, take a few moments to discuss the nature of political issues in general.

One could indeed call the definition of a political issue a complicated governmental topic or debate on which people have varying opinions. 

It is this last part of the definition that proves troublesome in many cases. For whenever we as humans have opponents, we tend to turn them into enemies.

Allow me to elaborate. It is possible, though in diminutive occurrence in the present day, to treat a political opponent as simply that: an opponent. This means that the two parties bear no personal animosity towards each other and wish no ill will upon the other simply because they bear a different political view.

This is the best state for two political entities to be in. Being only human, we will always have different opinions, and the best thing we can do is to respect them.

But humans are naturally tribal and partisan. Therefore, we tend to sort ourselves into camps and motivate ourselves by the image we create of the other camp, thereby making our opponents into our enemies.

Enemies are people for whom we bear a resounding hatred and allot no sympathy or empathy in our hearts.

When looking at the situation this way, it seems ridiculous to deem someone an enemy simply because of disagreement on a political issue. Just because we differ in the manner in which we believe we should be governed should not signify the termination of sympathy from one human to another.

But, one may argue, some political issues deal with questions of morality.

Among these issues are the issues of the legality of the termination of a pregnancy (which some would argue is immoral because it terminates what would otherwise become a human life while others argue the opposite is immoral because it takes away a woman’s right to privacy) and that of addressing racism in our current society. In general, social issues tend to have a moral argument being made by at least one side.

I will concede that questions of morality can be very dividing and can cause anyone to grow to hate those who do not agree with them. I, too, have fallen into this dangerous pit.

But what are we if not civil? Are we not no better than the wild animals when we fail to treat each other with respect and kindness?

As such, even during the most difficult of times and considering the most complicated and divisive of issues, we must remember that we, as humans, must remember the humanity of others.

And how fitting it is that I have written about politics in my time at the newspaper when this lesson is so often forgotten in the political realm.

Why, just recently, we passed the 2-year anniversary of the January 6th, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol Building, the epitome of political antagonizing due to a perceived threat from the other side.

This event shows us how dire the situation is in our nation. We simply cannot afford to wait to turn our present course around, lest we risk more unproductive political discourse, or, at worst, violence.

So how do we do this? How, given the incredibly diverse ideological makeup of our nation, can we unite under a common cause and truly love our neighbors and enemies?

Well, the first thing we must do, as Megan Phelps-Roper said in her TED Talk, is stay calm and make the argument. What I mean by the latter is that you should not hold a position unless you can defend it using a coherent argument.

While this seems like a small change to make, it will be of great benefit. Too much of our political discourse is based on blind adherence to ideology rather than a knowledge of the logical strength of our own positions.

Another change I think would be quite beneficial to make would be to interact with people who differ from you ideologically.

It is important to kindly talk with people to see if common ground may be made. Even if it cannot, you will learn something from the encounter that could not really have been gained otherwise.

The quote found at the beginning of this article is from the Bible, and it essentially says to love and wish the best for your enemies. I would offer a slightly different idea: make no one your enemy.

If we do not consider our adversaries our enemies, but merely as someone with whom we bear disagreements and can be negotiated and reasoned with, we will be on track to ensuring we shall prosper in both the moral and social realm.