One thing I’ve realized lately is that a person’s enemies are rarely wrong. Your enemies do see some fundamental truths of who you are. The things they hate about you are most likely honest-to-god terrible and annoying things about you.
But what I find fascinating about enemies is that your enemies may have a legitimate complaint against you that obligates you to act–“That bastard killed my sister and I want him to face justice.” or “That woman wouldn’t hire me because I’m gay and I want her to face some kind of repercussions.” What your enemies want from you is not unreasonable, even if it’s incredibly disruptive to your life.–but a lot of times your enemies have a legitimate complaint against you–“God, she’s such a complainy douche!”–but the action they want to see taken against you–“Don’t hang out with her.”–doesn’t really obligate you to act. Just because someone doesn’t like that you’re a complainy douche doesn’t mean that you have to change to suit them. It also doesn’t make it right for them to try to separate you from your friends who also probably see that you’re a complainy douche, but find that outweighed by your undying loyalty and your willingness to drive them places whenever they need it.
It does seem to me like a lot of human interactions are about establishing who can force others to move without having to be moved themselves. Most of the time, I think we’d be better off if we all just agreed to either move together or not worry about whether others were moving but just on our own motions and the outcomes of those motions.
But I find the second kind of enemy so weird and fascinating because they’re arguing that their hatred of someone creates some kind of relationship that the person they hate should honor by trying to be less hated. I completely get why people who like each other come to understand themselves as being entwined in mutually beneficial obligations to each other.
But how does the person who hates you understand their claim on you if their claim on you isn’t, in part, “you are genuinely doing me wrong” as opposed to “you are annoying me.”?
I hate, genuinely hate, very few people in this world who I don’t feel have wronged me. The people who have wronged me, the obligation I think they have to me now is to leave me alone. But the people who haven’t wronged me, but who just annoy me into hatred, I don’t want to spend time trying to make them be more palatable to me. I don’t want to have to spend any more time with them than I do. If they were less terrible, I’d be under more pressure to tolerate them.
I feel like I’m missing some obvious thing here. There must be something pleasurable, even in a deeply twisted way, about trying to assert power over people you hate, but I just don’t see it. I mean, if you could guarantee that it would work–I can see how that would be pleasurable–to watch your enemies do your bidding. But real life isn’t often like that. Instead, you’re more often just struggling to try to get any hint of that kind of influence. Mostly, it’s just you and the person you hate yelling at each other and not doing what the other wants you to do.
Less The Godfather and more Real Housewives.