As a child, I was very proud of the fact that I had no enemies. All liked me (or so I believed)! Two of my favourite Bible verses were, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers…’ (Matthew 5:9) and ‘… whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.’ (Matthew 5:39). I would set about attempting to break up fights between my young friends, appealing to them to choose reason over violence.
I remember one of the classic arguments: my mom/dad is better than your mom/dad. Whenever I would find two kids ducking it out over that one, I would step in, and using my most calm and sage like voice, explain, that his mom/dad was the best mom/dad for him, and her mom/dad was the best mom/dad for her. I would go on to explain how neither of them couldn’t have become the great individuals that they were without that particular parent, and how that parent had been designed perfectly for them. On and on I would go until the point where they would pretend to agree so that I would finally walk away, allowing them to continue fighting in peace.
However, eventually – I think I was about nine years old – I got my first enemy (known enemy, at least). I don’t even remember his name, but I remember he was short – well I suppose we were all short back then – and had a round face… and I’m pretty sure he wore glasses. He was so annoying – in fact, he came up with an extremely annoying nickname for me, which I won’t mention here because it was really quite clever, not to mention catchy, and I wasn’t able to lose it until after I left that school.
I had to sit near him at the school bus stop, the area-where-you-wait-for-mom-to-pick-you-up, and it seemed that he could not let a day go by without teasing me about something. Urgh! I couldn’t stand him – but being the peace-loving little girl that I was, I found my condition very upsetting. I had finally met an individual that I couldn’t get along with. I was wrought with guilt. It was sort of like the time I told my first lie (known, at least).
Right up to the day I left that school, I don’t think him and I ever made amends. Years later, an old classmate told me that I had once had a legendary fight after school with a boy. It was a pretty big deal because little girls generally didn’t have fights with little boys – that was something grown-up girls did. I only vaguely remember the fight (perhaps in my guilt, I mentally blocked it out) – but it’s not too difficult to guess who it was that I fought with.
Now, as a young adult, I am sure I have a whole army of enemies out there; people I didn’t follow back on Twitter, clients for whom I did not meet a deadline, boys whose text messages I never replied to, and on and on I could go. Petty arguments. Unknown snubs. Jokes that went below the belt. Who knows how many times I have hurt others by accident… or even deliberately, because I know I haven’t been a model Christian all my life – or even half of it – or even a quarter – you know what, I should just stop.
As for friends, well, according to Facebook I have lots of them – that very special kind of friendship that can end with the click of an ‘Unfriend’ button. Thankfully, they haven’t come up with an Enemy button yet. Hmm… how would it work? Could someone be your enemy without your consent, or would they have to send you an Enemy request? By God’s grace, I would click the ‘Not now’ button.
Akaliza Keza Gara is the founder of Shaking Sun Ltd, a multimedia company.