Today, in the middle of a perfectly beautiful, sunny afternoon as I was walking home from the local co-op, I had an unexpected, and most unpleasant, encounter with someone I can only describe as The Enemy. There I was, unprepared, caught totally unaware, and suddenly, he was in my face in a very ugly way. Here’s how it happened:
The enemy came today in the guise of a middle-aged man named Irving whom I had met once before. We were both walking along the same street, and he enquired if I was new to town. So a conversation ensued from there. Within a few minutes he had shared that he had run for mayor, was a book collector, and had 23 different translations of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. By then we were standing in front of his house. “Would you like to come in for a few minutes? I am safe,” he asked. I naively agreed, just for a few minutes.
Once inside, he began showing me his various collections of rare books, according to him. Sure enough, Kerouac was there, along with a whole shelf of Emma Goldman, the anarchist who was working for political justice in the early part of the 20th century in America. Somehow the conversation turned to Jews and that’s when Irving began to get vicious. When I mentioned Noam Chomsky in relation to American anarchists, Irving relegated him to being an anti-semitic, tottering old fool whose ideas have become the bottom of the political critics barrel. When I mentioned the fact that Israel’s politics were decidedly unpeaceful and were in fact aggressive, he turned even uglier, accusing me of not knowing anything about it and how all the wars which Israel have been engaged with have all been purely defensive. He continued in this self-righteous, I-know-all-about-it-and-you-don’t tone for as long as I stood there, waiting for him to stop talking long enough to get the f*%ck out of there. He had found out earlier that I now lived in Denmark, and his parting shot to me was, “Denmark is going down the tubes fast: did you know that the Muslims are about to take over Copenhagen?!”
Once outside in the fresh air, I quickly walked away from there and back through the sunny streets to my nice, safe, temporary home, shaking my head and talking to myself. At first I was simply in shock that a human could be so utterly convinced that he was right and everybody who didn’t agree with him was wrong. The whole encounter had become so vile, like a snake had slithered up to me and started speaking obscenities in my ear. I felt violated, not physically but psychically. Here was a man who basically embodied all that is wrong with male-ego-dominated societies: his world was completely black and white, and he defends force and aggression in the name of peace and love. He was a liar of the worst kind, because like any fanatic, he was so convinced he was Right. This is the dominator role in a nutshell: the male dominated ego, ready to slash and burn anyone who opposes him without so much as a backward glance. No opportunities for anyone else to state their opinion or philosophy or an alternative point of view. What a cold, heartless world it is for Irving, stuck in fear and loathing. Instead of Jack Kerouac, he perhaps would have been better off with S. Hunter Thompson as his mentor and hero. At least Kerouac was a Buddhist, albeit a rather debauched and jaded one.
Thinking about this sudden attack further as I was cooking dinner, I wonder how we as collective humanity can fundamentally shift our thinking enough to be able to eradicate the Irvings of the world, though not physically as in simply killing them, which of course would be thinking in the same way as they do, accomplishing nothing. No, the answer to shifting our way of seeing each other from “The Enemy” to seeing each other as “Those Whose Opinions Differ from Ours but We Nevertheless Can Respect Them”, is going to take nothing less than a fundamental change from a fear-based consciousness, to a consciousness based in love.
Simple words to write here, but my experience today affirms the huge difficulty in putting them into action. The title of this blog is called The Enemy. This means that there is a part of me which understands that the Irvings of the world are my enemy, they are against everything which I as a human being stand for. I see the paradox but don’t really know what to do about it. Today’s encounter with The Enemy spoke directly to what I have been sharing with you, dear Readers, about the urgency and necessity of going beyond the old Dominator (male-based ego dominated) model to instead embrace the Partnership model for living upon this earth. Say what you will; but in the end, it is the feminine qualities of sharing, partnering, nurturing, caring for, power with instead of force over, which will create the paradigm shift our world absolutely has to make if we have a chance in hell of surviving and thriving, while harming none.
I am willing to take a hard, long look at myself and work on the places where I am still stuck in outmoded, dangerous thinking. In the meantime, I will also be a little more careful from now on when walking around my life and suddenly have an opportunity to strike up a conversation with an unassuming-looking stranger. And I will make sure to have my Xena the Warrior Goddess handy in case I need her!