Enemy and Mistake

Dear Editor,
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”, says Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor and Military Commander. This is generally everyone knows and practices. Theodore Roosevelt – American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian and writer who served as the 26th President of the US from 1901 to 1909 – says “It is a wicked thing to be neutral between right and wrong”. Apparently, this seemingly runs counter to what Napoleon Bonaparte says. But an enemy’s mistake benefits the other if the enmity is not in sight to be ended. The same enemy watches with pleasure when we are making mistakes. Interruption is avoided for two reasons. First, lack of courage to interrupt. Secondly, the desire for enemy’s digression when he suffers for the mistakes he makes. Many times enemies masquerading as friends do not correct the mistakes. There are two types of enemies. Enemies openly hostile to the other and enemies pretending to be friends covertly desiring for the fall of friend in life. Enemies in the open are less dangerous than enemies in the mask of friends. William Blake, an English poet, painter and printmaker says “it is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive our friends” . It is said that he was largely unrecognized during his life. Now he is considered as the seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual art of the Romantic Age. It is true forgiving an enemy is easier than forgiving a friend. An enemy may be forgiven when he wants to be forgiven and an enemy may be forgiven spontaneously also. An enemy forgiven on his desire may take the forgiver to the zone of arrogance also. The forgiver may find it easy to say that the enemy clawed back to him. Sometimes it may be easy to forgive but difficult to forget. Loss of memory or amnesia with the advanced age can only make the bitter memory forget. A stage may be reached when what was forgiven may also be forgotten. It is said “A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant” . This quote is attributed to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an Islamic scholar. Correctness of this is not confirmed. Mistakes are a path to humility. If an enemy makes a mistake and if he realizes that it is mistake, he will be humble. An enemy making a mistake inadvertently would be the victim of his own mistake. It would be a self-made disaster if the mistake is committed knowingly that it is mistake. Abraham Lincoln says “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends”. An enemy can be disarmed if his mistakes are pointed out and he is sincerely advised to correct and in turn that enemy takes it in sportsmanship spirit and corrects himself. Arithmetic comprises of plus, minus, multiplication and division. It is said “Add friends, subtract enemies, multiply happiness and divide sorrow”. Often friend turns foe and foe turns friend. In that case, what is to be added is subtracted and what is to be subtracted is added. Winston Churchill has made a very interesting observation. All those who have enemies are not bad. If a person has enemies, says Churchill, he has stood up for something good. Bad is the enemy of good and good is the enemy of bad. Good and good are friends and bad and bad are friends. One may have enemy because he is good and another may have enemy because he is bad. Enemy or enmity is the result of conflict between good and bad.

K.V. Seetharamaiah

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