“Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.”
(foe or friend? / Julie Cook / 2022)
According to Wikipedia: “Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist,
writer, and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China.
Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War,
an influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western
and East Asian philosophy and military thinking.
His works focus much more on alternatives to battle, such as stratagem,
delay, the use of spies and alternatives to war itself,
the making and keeping of alliances, the uses of deceit,
and a willingness to submit, at least temporarily, to more powerful foes.”
In the past I have often quoted this wise Chinese General…
There is much wisdom in knowing how to deal with those who we find to be
confrontational or adversarial.
Frustratingly more often than not, many of us will immediately lead with
a knee-jerk response when faced with hostility—
be it a verbal or even physical assault.
We tend to act before we think.
We most often immediately lash out…fighting back with wrathful words and or fists.
Even the idea of revenge begins to percolate just below the surface
Sadly, over these past many months,
I’ve been learning a great deal more than I care to about the notions of
friend vs foe.
And even now, in my new environment, I find that it continues to behoove
me to know the difference between those who say they are friends vs those who
truly act as friends.
And it seems that I have a new curious friend…
who is not some wandering dog mind you…
And may I add, I use the term friend rather loosely.
He’s a juvenile black bear who is probably on his own for his first season without mom.
He’s cute enough.
And a bit too curious.
One morning I caught him lumbering off from my back patio carrying something
red and white in his mouth.
My knee jerk was to open the door, grab a broom and chase after him shouting
“you’d better not be dropping someone else’s trash in my yard bear”
Maybe some would think such a reaction on my part to be a bit foolish but you must
remember, I taught high school for 31 years…I’m not too frightened by
this latest hooligan.
Well….my overtly curious friend dropped said white and red object
as he continued to scamper off.
Upon close inspection I realized I was seeing my new jug of bug-b-gone, minus the top,
gurgling all down the hillside.
I fretted he had ingested some before dropping it—but thankfully he did not.
On other occasions I have turned around in the kitchen only to suddenly
see my friend at the sliding glass door…
peering inside as if he wants to come in for a glass of lemonade and a chat.
So the other afternoon I thought a quick trip to a nearby garden center
was in order.
I shut all the sliding glass doors and locked everything up…or so I thought.
I wasn’t gone 40 minutes.
But that was 40 minutes just long enough for mayhem to come calling.
Upon returning home, I rounded the corner to the kitchen and that’s when I saw it…
The kitchen window, which I had forgotten to close, was now screenless as the
screen was in a mangled heap draping over the sink.
The items that I had rinsed out, so I could recycle them later, were
now missing from the sink.
From the screenless window I spied the empty creamer bottle out in the yard.
The milk carton and honey jar, yes honey jar, were scattered further down the back path.
But the most egregious….
The stained-glass Theotokos, the Greek Orthodox image of Mary and the infant Jesus, was
now shattered and broken to bits.
Since I live in this bear’s neck of the woods…as in a mountain home…
I’m the one who is actually in his territory.
And thus the precarious dance of friend vs foe begins…
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,
for it is written: “It is mine to avenge;
I will repay,”says the Lord.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.