Friday, November 25, 2016

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

In the Enemy's Country
Charles Marion Russell

As I was casting about for supporting material for Tuesday's post about my memories of the assassination of JFK, I happened upon that quote which serves as today's title. Kind of surprised me that the quote was attributed to the late President. It also kind of surprised me that I could not find the context of that quote. Odd that.

At any rate, I like the quote. To forgive is indeed divine, to forget those you count among your enemies is just plain dumb. What that quote really did was inspire to go find other quotes about enemies.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
― Abraham Lincoln

“The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte

“I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.”
― Oscar Wilde

“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.”
― Frank Sinatra

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies."
(Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking him that he renounce Satan.)”
― Voltaire

“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”
― Baltasar Gracián

“Never explain―your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
― Elbert Hubbard

“Your Worst Enemy Could Be Your Best Friend && Your Best Friend Your Worst Enemy”
― Bob Marley

“We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.”
― George Orwell, 1984

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
― Steve Maraboli

“Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“If you have enemies, good
that means you stood up for something.”
― Eminem

“Staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for—YOU.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“A man with no enemies is a man with no character.”
― Paul Newman

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
― Homer

“The truth may not set you free, but used carefully, it can confuse the hell out of your enemies.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“To be successful you need friends and to be very successful you need enemies.”
― Sidney Sheldon

“It's not about going around trying to stir up trouble. As long as you're honest and you articulate what you believe to be true, somebody somewhere will become your enemy whether you like it or not.”
― Criss Jami

“I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!”
― Charlotte Brontë

“I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important.”
― Leigh Bardugo

And my own favorite, from the mini-series Shaka Zulu:
"Never leave and enemy behind." ― Shaka

If you have a favorite, share it. I won't tell your enemies...

Source for the most of those quotes above is here.


  1. We have long-term memory for a reason....

    1. Never thought of it that way, but you're right.

  2. Thanks for another great post.

    Paul L. Quandt

  3. I always say that I like everyone I have ever met, and hate everyone else.

  4. To paraphrase Mad Dog Mattis, "Have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Forgiveness is optional"

  5. Any of the Mattis quotes...LOL

  6. KILL! KILL! KILL! Vice Admiral William Halsey. Much more effective than Gandhi, whom I dislike intensely, for his hypocrisy towards non Hindus, and especially the untouchables.

    1. There's a good sf story out there about what would have happened to ghandi had the nazis prevailed and taken India.

    2. Harry Turtledove, "The Last Article"

  7. Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend, not everyone who frowns at you your enemy.

    1. Indeed.

      In fact, in other primates baring one's teeth is a threat display. Much like a smile!


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