Monday, May 9, 2011

With enemies like these...

Colleagues, there's the old bromide that you can't have too many friends. Could be true, but more to the point, I think we don't have enough enemies. God knows, I don't. In fact, I'm not sure I have any except those which I've manufactured. Which brings us to the point of this missive: the need, nay, the necessity of enemies.

Back in the day, one could have enemies. Whether it was the British or the French or the Indians or the Blacks or the Whites or the Democrats or the Confederates, everyone had enemies. And they were mortal enemies, too. They'd just as soon kill you as look at you; you felt the same about them. And the important thing about them was that they defined who were your friends. How can you have friends if you don't have any enemies?

Today we have what we call "friends," but in so many cases, they're really just really good acquaintances. They're folks that we "know" by sight and whose names we remember (although we rarely remember both their last AND first names; we usually refer to them as "bud," or "pal," or "hombre" or any of a number of names that almost certainly telegraph that we don't have any idea who they are). Anyway, we think we like them and that they like us and, in truth, they and we probably do, but we don't know if they're our "friends" because we don't know who our enemies are. Sad fact: we may not have any.

Oh, I'd like to hate the Republicans or the liberals or the conservatives or the commies or the hillbillies or the hippies or the Methodists or the Scientologists, but I can only do so in the abstract. Like when I'm sitting here blogging.  Those bastards! Or when I read in the LA Times what boneheaded thing they've done or said. Why, if I oughta...

But the reality is that if given the opportunity to stand in front of them and confront them, I'd probably like them; I'd like having dinner with them. I'd enjoy them as people.  I might not like their ideas, but we'd both probably have the good taste not to mention the things we disagree on.

Oh, I've known a few real jackasses in my years; folks that I would cross a busy LA street to avoid if I saw them coming, but they are few and far between. And despite the minor enmity that I feel for them I'd be hard pressed to say that I hate them or that they're truly mine enemy.

If only we had enemies, we'd know who to hate at any given moment. It wouldn't matter what they did or said; we'd just hate 'em simply for taking up space on the sofa.

These days, we're civilized. We're sold on the idea of free speech. That whole thing of, "I will disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is a wonderfully civilized sentiment. It takes the edge off what all the pinheads in the world do and it makes it not just hard, but virtually impossible to hate them.

That kind of sentiment puts us all on the same footing; it recognizes that we all have opinions and that we should respect the opinions of everyone and expect that they will respect ours. We don't have to agree with them, but we have to respect their right to have their opinion and their right to express and our right to disagree with it. It's very adult. Very civilized.  And very frustrating.

Case in point: it never ceases to amaze me how lawyers can beat the crap out of each other in court and then walk down to the corner and have a beer at the end of the day. Wouldn't it be more satisfying to simply shoot your opponent on the steps of the courthouse for making you look like a horse's ass in front of your client? Aren't they enemies? Wouldn't it be easier to beat up on your opponent if you really hated his living guts?

Seems to me that if you don't hate his living guts you're probably just play-acting. You're probably just pretending. Why, you're probably committing malpractice on a grand scale every time you set foot in the courtroom!

Dang, I hate lawyers. But not really.  Too many of them are friends.