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Who is the enemy?

I feel like as humans we tend to label a group or a person as "the enemy" and proceed to disagree with everything they say or do regardless of merit. Republicans and Democrats, atheists and believers, pro-life and pro-choice, etc. etc. I mean really, anything the NRA says is instantly ridiculed in some circles and anything President Obama does is destroying America in other circles. I've seen this in families, even.
So who is the real enemy here? Are there such things as enemies in the end? I'm not just talking politically, but in all phases of life. Is there anybody that should be labeled as an enemy?
It would also be interesting if you give examples of kinds of enemies you've seen other than those listed above.

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    Feb 2 2013: Great point you've raised here - I believe that the word enemy is a word that needs to be dismantled in any rational argument. It's a crude bass word used to discriminate against large groups of people. The truth of the matter is people-nations-corporations will always have conflicting interests that cause dispute, arguments and battles. In order to move forward as a society we must try and understand every conflict for what it is, not what it means to us on an emotional level. One of the things that dictators always do, is make enemy symbols for their community to give them control and power. It's how you distract ordinary people away from the oppression they're living under and focus their anger and frustration on someone else - Think George Orwell "Animal Farm" & "1984" - My bottom line on this is. If you think of people as enemies, you're probably not thinking for yourself. DC
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    Feb 2 2013: Ignorance is the greatest enemy of humnaity
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    Feb 1 2013: the word "enemy" is invented as an excuse to suspend common sense and common decency.
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    • Feb 1 2013: I agree with you. Self-mastery comes first. If you can master your own emotions, usually all the other enemies fade away. Have you ever noticed how people that are very insecure about themselves usually have this attitude of combativeness?
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        • Feb 4 2013: I know people like those little dogs...oh dear. Let's all strive to be big dogs, shall we? Sounds like a plan. Oh, and thanks for the compliment. :)
  • Feb 7 2013: Jonathan Haidt covers this in his book "The Happiness Hypothesis", where he calls this the "myth of pure evil", where we imagine evildoers are pure in their evil motives and that all evil ultimately comes from outside the group of us the good people. This mindset is the whole problem his more recent work is set up against.

    A short quote that drives the limitations of that mode of thinking home:

    A good place to look for wisdom, therefore, is where you least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents. You already know the ideas common on your own side. If you can take off the blinders of the myth of pure evil, you might see some good ideas for the first time.

    --Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, Page 242
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    Feb 3 2013: If there is no enemy within, there can be no enemy without. I forgot who said this, but I've found that it's true
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    Feb 3 2013: i guess everything has two sides ; a good one and a bad one , so we should not label the bad side as an enemy without looking at the good side . for some people the bad side is considered to be the good one and vice verse .
    if someone hurts us physically we should call them an enemy because they showed their hate in a very clear and defensive way , but if they hurt us emotionally , it doesn't have to be a sign of hate ! some people say things they don't mean , we gotta know why they said these things before labeling them as enemies because an enemy is someone who is trying to destroy us , someone who's trying to hurt us on purpose , someone who wanna make us suffer , when someone does that , then that's the enemy .
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    • Feb 4 2013: So if I understand you correctly, you're talking about the ideas of intolerance, hate, apathy, and greed as the enemy. I would agree with you. I would go further and say the ideas have root in our natures, and those parts of our natures are the enemy. As each one of us changes and rejects those ideas, they will naturally die out. However, that is a personal decision that must be made individually. Thus the difficulty. Am I right?
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    Feb 1 2013: There are real enemies, there are imagined enemies; sometimes our attitude and behaviour becomes our enemy(the enemy within).
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      Feb 3 2013: good point .
      an imagined enemy is bad but the enemy within is the worst !
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    Feb 1 2013: They are not enemy, they just disagree with each other, but because they want to win, they turn to enemies.
    If they can mange their relation and find out that the other group don't want to destroy them, They can have better relationship, discussion and so on.
  • Feb 1 2013: Enemies and friends may vary and may come and go.
  • Feb 1 2013: Pat defines enemy well.

    Who is challenging YOUR well being? Since you ask the question, I conclude you have no obvious enemies.

    Would you consider the following as enemies:

    People who destroy the natural environment for selfish gain, thus threatening the survival of your descendants
    People who get rich by causing the economy to collapse, putting millions of people out of work.
    Politicians who support laws that are sought by their financial supporters, regardless of the harm done to the people who they should be representing.
    Employees who perform minimally, not caring who is harmed by their negligence.
    Then there are the common murderers, rapists, thieves and other criminals.

    I can remember when the phrase "political enemy" was understood as hyperbole. It was taken as a figure of speech. Political enemies were not real enemies, just fellow citizens who disagreed about the best path toward progress. Apparently that is no longer true.
    • Feb 1 2013: I still wouldn't call them necessarily enemies. It's unfortunate, and I'll work to stop what they're doing for sure. What they're doing is bad, but are THEY bad? There's a reason why they're doing what they're doing. Some of it's out of pure greed/ill intent I'm sure, but I think those people who are totally evil are more rare than we think they are. People are people. They make mistakes, they make terrible choices that hurt tons of other people. We need to stop them and fix the damage, absolutely. But I still wouldn't call them an enemy. Treating them as such will never fix the problem that originated inside of them.
      • Feb 2 2013: I am not sure that you understand that many of these people consider you to be their enemy, or perhaps their prey. In their own minds, these people are not making a mistake. They see themselves as the rightful survivors in a world of kill or be killed, and they are consciously, intentionally, out to do you harm. I consider such people as my enemies.

        I do not care whether THEY are bad.

        I do not know what you mean by treating them as enemies. They are my enemies, so however I treat them is how I treat enemies.
        • Feb 4 2013: And this is why wars start. Sometimes wars are necessary, I won't deny. Nothing else could have stopped Hitler. There are really evil people in the world. However, can you see that as you reciprocate their intolerance and hatred you will become like them in some degree? That is the real tragedy.
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    Feb 7 2013: The unknown external, for the weak minds and the taken for granted internal for the wise.
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    Feb 4 2013: Enemies are those that make us stronger, wiser and those that piss us off ------ (sorry, I could have found other words to express what I am trying to convey but, It would not have been out of the park) :)
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    Feb 3 2013: In my opinion, it is those who deem themselves better then the rest; dehumanizing others and in the process inflicting mental or physical harm.
  • Feb 2 2013: As has been pointed out already, we are our own enemy.
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    Feb 1 2013: If I am enjoying a day at the park with my 7 year-old Granddaughter I will consider all the other folks at the park to be friendly. When one, or more, of them shows intent to harm my little one, physically or emotionally, I now view them as unfriendly. The folks I see as friendly I call "a friend". Anyone who intends harm I call "an enemy". Words are all we have to share our thoughts. The word "enemy" has a clear and distinct meaning.
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    Feb 1 2013: I agree with you, Scot, that many people are quick to treat those who disagree with them, stand up to them, or stand in the way of their pressing agenda as enemies and then do not listen or try to appreciate anything of value that "other' might bring to the table. This mindset where it exists interferes with learning, collaboration, and problem-solving.

    There is a connected concept in psychology called thick or thin boundaries but is measured on a scale rather than binary.

    Someone with thick boundaries tends to separate people and ideas into distinct groups with sharp lines separating the groups. Those who lump people together as if they are fundamentally homogeneous because of, say, political affiliation or occupation are on the thick boundary end of the scale. Those who recognize variation within such categories and indeed overlaps among them and who resist categorization and one-size-fits all conceptual formulations are on the thin boundary end of the scale. Someone who hates labeling people would be on the thin boundary end.

    Those more toward the thick end are more likely, probably, to see and identify various groups as enemies.
    • Feb 1 2013: How can we help the thick ended people get to the thin end? (Ha, sounds like a diet program.)
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        Feb 1 2013: As I recall, it is considered a personalty trait, so people have a strong disposition one way or another.

        Still there is empirical evidence that open-mindedness can be cultivated.
        • Feb 4 2013: I've seen people change this kind of thing. I believe people definitely have tendencies one way or the other, but you can change if you want to. And put in the effort.
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    Gail .

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    Feb 1 2013: In my part of the world, Christian evangelicals have made it VERY clear that non-chrisitians and non-whites are the ENEMY. Do I want it this way? No. But don't blame me for their choices.

    I wonder how much dissent would be erased if government called any religious institution that talked about any political party or political position a PAC and taxed it as such. When one group insists that those who disagree are not disagreeing with them, but are disagreeing with God, the fight is unfair and unresolvable. Dissension grows.

    I found Mr. Haidt's speech almost laughable. His suggestion that strengthening marriage will not only reduce income inequality but significantly improve most of our social ills is profoundly naive.

    If a rapist is going around raping people, are women supposed to support his ideals? Women are being metaphorically raped (as are blacks, hispanics, and the LBGT community) by the conservative Christian community. How can Mr. Haidt truly expect those who are being raped and deprived of basic human rights and essential equality, to work with those who are raping them?

    I don't label the xtians "enemy". I don't have enough political power where I live to bother. I do KNOW that I am considered to be in THEIR enemy camp. This is made abundantly clear in so MANY ways!
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    Feb 1 2013: This is a great question and I think a lot of people will give great answers according to them.

    The great gun debate:

    The NRA, Citing Switzerland and Israels gun laws and Inalienable rights.

    In the middle = Obama's recommendations.

    Those against escalation and more controls on guns.


    Who's the enemy? What enemy? I am my enemy.

    I could launch into a grand explanation but it would only come across as patronizing, other than that refer to Pats comment.
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    Feb 1 2013: The question is who challenges you or someones survival? Who benefits you or someones survival?

    E.G. people will say that a Muslim terrorist is aiding the survival of his group and getting rid of infidels. But what is wrong with this assessment is that he is not aiding the people of the world. Hitler had a similar perspective.

    As to the political ideals you have to ask which ones aide the survival of that nation. People will say this is accomplished through socialism but the reality when you actually LOOK at this is greater debt and less economic activity than countries that have freer markets.

    Look at this index to see what system is the enemy: