TED Conversations

Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,


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Can you Really Love Your Enemies?

Will the world be a better place if everyone does that? Or will it cause criminals to multiply and be worse?

'Babylonian law put an end to this. Assuming you were of the same social rank as the person you injured, the punishment had to fit the crime: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

'This principle, as barbaric as it may seem today, was an important step forward for civilization. A further advance was made by Jesus and Buddha, who both, according to Robert Thurman, Professor of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, embraced the philosophy of love your enemy...'


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  • Dec 31 2013: Well, I don't know about loving your enemy, though a healthy respect and understanding of your enemy sure does make it easier to defeat them.

    Loving your enemy seems like something of an oxymoron though. I don't see it happening.
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      Dec 31 2013: You really impress me Nadav.
      Many battles are lost because we underestimate our enemies. So your advice of respecting
      and understanding enemies is spot on. Loving enemies is only easy if we made or caused them to be.
      • Dec 31 2013: When I was in the military I used to try to propagate respect for the enemy all the time. Propaganda and even racism, combined with a real technological disparity often made it easy to underestimate the opposition. Its easy to get overconfident, and overconfident soldiers tend to have shorter life expectancies.

        Getting inside your enemy's head and understanding their perspective is a great help. The trick is to do so without "going native" as it were, doing so without compromising your ability to kill them if needed--understanding the enemy without loving them.
        Some people would call this a brand of sociopathy, and honestly, I'm inclined to agree to an extent. The scary thing is that its a skill that can be taught to practically anyone...
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          Dec 31 2013: No wonder you were intel!
          See how our chat progressed. You started with respecting and understanding
          enemies. Which brought me to underestimating them. Which brought you to
          the subject 'overconfidence'. It would be nice if all TED dialogues run like this.

          'The scary thing is that its a skill that can be taught to practically anyone...'

          Big responsibility too since whatever we teach goes on forever which could
          glorify or ruin our names forever.

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