“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Winston S. Churchill
It is almost self-defining that people who want to make good things happen are, in smaller or greater part, the sort of people for whom upsetting others can be deeply upsetting. So what happens when someone doesn’t like what you stand for?
You don’t have to be cantankerous to wind other people up. Even the Dalai Lama had to move from Tibet for his own safety and the safety of others. And extraordinary people like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, full of compassion, met somewhat abrupt ends.
And in no way is anyone suggesting seeking conflict. The problem is that in any poorly functioning and non-sustainable system there will be some who benefit from things just as they are, and who wish to maintain it for as long as possible. Denial, anger and protectionism are likely.
On the other side, whether it’s between friends, within teams, or boards and leadership in purposeful organisations, we notice that often the biggest disagreements occur between those who are very close on just about everything else.
Ideally there’s a field beyond, the common purpose and goal, the legacy that all wish to co-create, that can provide engaging and non-violent ways forwards.
But situations are not always ideal. To do nothing for fear of incurring enemies is to hold back your voice, truth and action, and not to work towards what you care about.
So we’re noticing ourselves railing against being vanilla and beige these days. We’re becoming a little more Marmite. Perhaps it’s the clock ticking. Perhaps some degree of courage comes from serving something bigger than self. Perhaps it’s knowing that there’s a balance in these things, that in repelling some, others are more attracted. Perhaps…
The point that emerges is that there’s a power in standing for something, rather than against something, that you can find purpose and fulfilment from leading and serving beyond self, and being as compassionate as possible at all times carries its own rewards. And even then, you may upset people. Carry on. After all, as Martin Bell said, “Good things happen because we make them happen. Bad things happen because we allow them to.”
And there’s also wisdom in “Not all who say they love you are your friends, and not all who harm you are your enemies.” Those who stand against you may be offering valuable insights and lessons. And through the dark comes light.
You may find extraordinary opportunities and friendships by doing and living what you care about.