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+2 votes
To what extent do we cede the ground of our lives by being more or less undiscerning in many ways about choosing our enemies? We seem to run from fire to fire, scandal to scandal, conflict for conflict's sake, and in this perhaps we debase ourselves by letting activist inertia decide where we make our battles and on which paths our lives proceed.  What do we gain/lose from making (non)specific people/targets our enemies? How do we become greater/stronger/more powerful/enlivened by choosing (non)specific enemies?

As a provocation:
"You may only have enemies that are to be hated, but not enemies to be despised.  You must be proud of your enemy: then the successes of your enemy are also your successes."

Do taking on pathetic enemies make us pathetic?

"One day Zarathustra had fallen asleep under a fig tree, for it was hot, and had laid his arms over his face.  Then came an adder and bit him in the neck, so that Zarathustra cried out in pain.  When he had taken his arm from his face he had looked at the snake: it recognized Zarathusra's eyes, writhed awkwardly, and wanted to get away.  'Oh no,' said Zarathustra.  'You have not accepted my thanks!  You woke me at the right time: my way is still long.'  'Your way will be short,' said the adder sadly.  'My poison is deadly.'  Zarathustra smiled.  'When did a dragon ever die from the poison of a snake?'- he said.  'But take your poison back! You are not rich enough to bestow it on me.' "

edited for tags
by (2.3k points)
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1 Answer

+1 vote
i don't really choose my enemies, i choose my battles.

i consider an enemy to be anyone that consciously chooses to impose their will on me, or otherwise restrict my freedom. since i don't choose/control the behavior of others, i can't really choose who i consider an enemy. but i can choose to attack/defend against a particular enemy, when and to what extent.

i guess if i think of, say, the banking industry, then i might have to choose what aspect of that enemy to attack in any given situation. for example, there are individuals within the institution to whom i attribute a greater amount of responsibility for the oppression and exploitation (the executive that makes and imposes decisions vs the janitor or teller that is just trying to survive in the shithole created - in part - by that industry).  

hope i didn't misunderstand the question.
by (13.4k points)
i think your answer is compelling, but i guess if i could follow up by asking instead of how do we choose our enemies, that given the perhaps innumerable number of enemies in different situations at different times, how do we choose which enemies to engage with in which ways?  I could say that nazis and cops are both enemies in pretty much every conceivable situation, but how i choose to engage with them is probably different in most situations, and not necessarily from a purely tactical point of view.  I guess im also getting at the question of whether our engagement (battles) are purely to break away or do those situations themselves actually contribute to shaping the character of ourselves and our lives. And i ramble on....
yes, taking on pathetic enemies makes us pathetic. and yes, choice of enemy is i think a very useful way to think about who and how we want to be.
i can't give a full answer atm, but i think this is a really good question, also touching on competition (how it can be useful in our lives as much as it can be a stupidity).
it also seems true that responding to enemies as a way to guide our efforts could be called ressentiment; but i think it is not... anyway, there is a lot here.