“I drift about without rudder or compass, a wreck on the sea of life; I have no memories to cheer me, no pleasant illusions of the future to comfort me, or about myself to satisfy my vanity. I have no family to furnish the only kind of survival that concerns us, no friends for the wholesome development of my affections, or enemies for my malice– Alfred Bernhard Nobel

Enemies have a purpose.

Looking back over my interactions with people over the years, I’m reminded about some folks who fit the role of my enemies…

  • The childish poseur punk, who mistakes basking in someone else’s glory for fame in its own right, and attacks colleagues and contemporaries in language and tone that speaks volumes of his background and upbringing.
  • The cynical wanna-be who gets petty thrills by putting down members of an online community of which he was (once upon a time) moderator – and now is seething with impotent rage as his ‘super-powers’ have been stripped away.
  • The social media maven whose “lectures from the Mount” she expects the rest of the universe to bow to, obey and accept unquestioningly as their lot in ‘online social’ life.
  • The Fortune 500 consultant who barges into cozy, polite gatherings like a bull into a china shop, taking pleasure in disrupting the social fabric of a happy little community just for the sake of making a trivial point.
  • The “oh so smart” writer who should know better than to glance at my deeper messages and then draw superficial – and silly – conclusions, which he then proceeds to share with hundreds of my peers.

And there are the ‘lesser’ enemies – minor irritants who make daily life on the digital Web that wee bit less fun, that tiny bit more annoying… like mosquito bites on your unprotected hands!

I should harbor, nurse, and cherish that enmity, for the “wholesome development of my malice”.

But somehow, in hindsight, I realize the things they’ve done to attract my ire aren’t worthy of being kept in mind.

In my younger days, I’ve lived by phrases like “Revenge is a dish best tasted cold”, and enjoyed tales of them like “The Godfather” and “The Count of Monte Christo”.

Today, as I work with tiny tots who have been dealt a bad hand by Life, and do what I can to help them beat the odds and survive, a lot else pales in contrast.

Things which I may have obsessed over seem trivial, incidental, insignificant.

Pediatric heart surgery has made me a better grounded person.

Suffering has a cleansing effect – even on observers.

Try this the next time you feel uncontrollable anger, or irrepressible rage, or deep burning hatred against your enemies.

Walk into a children’s hospital. Visit the cancer wing, or the surgical ward.

Look around. Connect with the kids. And then, think again about the enmity.

Does it really matter so much any more?

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  • Jan 15,2009 at 5:21 pm

    Dr. Mani, you took this post to an unexpected place and I’m grateful to you for it.

    Perhaps it’s a process of “catch and release” with respect to our enemies/adversaries rather than “nurse, harbor and cherish” the enmity — in other words, learn and let go. And get back to the true work of one’s life.

    Thanks for pointing me here.

    ~peggy (via triiibes)

  • Jan 15,2009 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Dr. Mani! Recognized a couple of the cast of characters! Having experienced a grievous loss recently, reading your assessment resonated with my own feelings so that I felt I was meant to read this today. Keep moving. Thanks!

  • Money.Power.Wisdom
    Dec 21,2008 at 4:07 am

    @Charles E. White

    It’s so good to see you here, my friend. 🙂

    I’d not be human if I didn’t get upset, feel hurt or experience anger at some things people say about me or do to me. Yes, things did get to me now and then.

    Keeping a wider perspective has helped me ‘let go’ and ‘move on’ – that’s always a good thing. 🙂

  • Money.Power.Wisdom
    Dec 21,2008 at 4:05 am


    Lovely viewpoint. Guess I did! 🙂

  • Money.Power.Wisdom
    Dec 21,2008 at 4:04 am


    How true, Reba. And ‘older’ is NOT always measured chronologically. I’ve met 70 year old ‘kids’ without a fraction of the wisdom of 12 year old ‘mavens’. I’m so glad to hear your daughter got through the battle! Thanks for the wonderful insights.

  • Charles E. White
    Dec 21,2008 at 1:58 am

    What a great and sincere post in Enemies, Doc! Problem is that someone got you upset enough for you to write it here.

    Of all the people I know there isn’t anyone more sincere and honestly wants to help people the way you do. That is spoken from experience Doc from the times you have helped me. Something I will never forget and be always grateful.

    Regards My Friend,

    Charles E. White

  • Dec 20,2008 at 7:42 pm

    What a wise and beautiful way to gain perspective on what really matters on this “tragical” and magical globe that we share.

    The world is a finer place because you are so “you.” And it’s no wonder you are so admired, respected and loved by so many.

    Thank you, Dr. Mani, for “being.”

    ~Mary Anne

  • Dec 20,2008 at 5:17 pm

    There are many forms of cancer aren’t there Dr Mani?

    Seems you may have cured yourself of one of them 🙂

    ~ chris

  • Dec 20,2008 at 3:07 pm

    All too true DrMani.
    I recently posted within that last day that our
    self righteousness’ are as filthy rags.

    In other words, what I may feel I have a right to feel?
    Pale in contrast of the true life and light.

    Between your words and my memory of this phrase.
    I am laid speechless in its truth.

    Be blessed DrMani.


  • Dec 20,2008 at 3:06 pm

    My daughter was one of those children in the cancer wing at the hospital when she was a baby, so I spent a lot of time there and know exactly what you’re talking about Dr. Mani. The five years she fought her battle changed my outlook on many things.

    However, when that was occurring I was very young, and looking back on that time, I feel my youth caused me to not use what I was learning until much later. When you’re young it’s all about “me and mine” and I continued with those attitudes until I grew up a bit.

    With age comes the ability to see the bigger picture that one can’t see when they are young. One’s nerves calm and experience tells us that certain situations won’t kill us. That gives us the ability to not overestimate the importance of our problems. And in regard to your post, just because someone is still young or self-centered and says or does something that hurts us, being a bit older we can see it’s not the end of the world. And it’s easier to ignore or even forgive them thus making our own lives easier.

    So don’t condemn or wish revenge on your enemies, usually they are just young and don’t have the mental capacity to know better. And even if you still can’t let the vengeful feeling go after being shown the ‘bigger picture’ like that of the children’s cancer wing, just wait and time, age, and experience will help those feelings fade.

    BTW, my daughter won her battle with cancer and is now a 29 year old first-grade teacher!

  • Dec 20,2008 at 2:29 pm

    Brilliantly concept Dr. Mani, and masterfully laid out.

    I’ve read a lot of very insightful blog posts by you sir, but this one… wow.

    The first part almost had me thinking “Yeah! Those kind of people piss me off. I need some enemies too.”

    Then you wiped away that emotion with an almost wrenching shift in perspective.

    Persuasive too.

    For others who read this and feel compelled to comment, don’t you think this post deserves a Digg?

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