Love Our Enemies

Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso

Our human history is full of bloody incidents. We’ve been killing one another ever since. From tribal societies to modern nation-states the world has been indeed in a state of constant warfare. Peace is so rare and scarce. We can’t keep it without our tremendous efforts.

Where is a noble savage? Where is a noblesse oblige? Are they all myths?

Whether it is tribal or modern, it seems we are all so selfish, violent, and cruel. In the prehistoric tribal communities, one of the top causes for death was murder. And our societies from premodern to modern to postmodern have demonstrated a series of slavery, torture, genocide, mass destructive warfares, nuclear threats, and more.

We are so selfish, violent, and cruel. Is it our survival instinct? Why do we keep creating such hell on earth?

Our primitive consciousness is by default ego-centric. One sees the world only from one’s point of view. Instinctively, we could do anything cruel for our survival. Once, however, we start living with family members, relatives, and tribal community members, our consciousness expands to the next level, which is called group-centric. In this level, we can love our members, but still at the very primitive level. Some study says its limit is up to around 150 members, called Dunbar’s number. It is based on our cognitive capacity.

Exceeding Dumbar’s number, we need a series of systems to maintain the scale. The concept of organization and institution emerges. By this mechanism, we can even manage the million-scale members. Modern societies, civilizations, nation-states are at this scale. But, our consciousness is still at the group-centric level.

What is the group-centric consciousness?

In this level, we are collectively selfish, violent, and cruel. Such terms as ethnocentrism, nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and ideological radicalism, etc. could be the manifestations of this consciousness level.

In this consciousness, we fall in the trap of “we are right, they are wrong” mindset. It varies like, our god is right, and their god is false; our ideology is correct, and theirs is wrong; they are invalid or erroneous since they are different from us, etc.

This discriminative mindset goes on and on to generate a various series of friend and foe dichotomy. Meeting strangers, the first thing we have to do is determine if this person is our friend or enemy, which is the basis and limit of our group-centric consciousness.

If our consciousness is supposed to expand itself into the next level, it could be called world-centric, God-centric, or universe-centric. In this consciousness, we could embrace and include all of us and others.

Does it sound idealistic and naive?

We can find this teaching in the Bible:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48

It seems, however, we can never follow this. On the contrary, our religious teachings have always been the main cause of our collective selfishness, violence, and cruelty. Because of them, we kill one another and create hell on earth, endlessly.

To love our enemies, what we have to kill is our ego, which is our real enemy.

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