On having enemies

One of my children recently pointed out to me that there must be something wrong with me because more than one of my family members dislikes me.

Yes, bad people do have enemies, but so do good people. In fact, many of the greatest people the world has ever known had plenty of enemies — Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Smith Jr., the prophet Lehi (whose sons wanted to kill him), and Jesus Christ, to name a random few.

While I hardly put myself in the same class as those people, it’s worth pondering the fact that good people can have just as many enemies as bad people. It’s a sad fact, and proof that Satan is at work.

I think it’s fair to say that the number of one’s enemies has no bearing on his worth, and should never be used as a measure of a person’s virtue or character.

A better gauge of person’s character is how he reacts to those who don’t like him. Richard Nixon said it well in his self-revealing and (sadly) self-condemning farewell remarks to White House staff after his resignation as President of the United States when he said “Always remember — others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

“He who finds fault has the greater fault.” I believe this is true about 99% of the time and there are a number of scriptural references that back this up, including “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1), “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matt 7:3), and “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10) There’s also the story of the woman who was taken in adultery and brought to Jesus who said to her accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).

Each of those scriptures is teaching us that we, as imperfect beings, have no right to find faults in others. Yes, there are times when we’re justified in finding fault, but even then, we risk condemning ourselves if we ignore our own faults.

I don’t like to have enemies. In fact I will make great effort to mend and maintain relationships. Nevertheless, those efforts will sometimes get no results or even backfire. Having enemies seems to be something I have to accept. What I should never accept, however, is my own bad behavior. I refuse to hate others. I will not hold long-term grudges. I will always be willing to cast anger aside and to forgive and forget.

I wish I had been quick enough to express these thoughts to my child when we were having our discussion, but I write them here in hopes they might still do some good.


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