5.8. Stop Seeing Enemies Everywhere

Eventually, you’re only left with yourself and small band of people who see things exactly as you do…and you see everybody else as an enemy or an enabler.

No matter what you believe, we’re told that if we keep fighting the good fight, keep standing up for our beliefs, keep pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into the right causes…eventually we’ll win.

But when we spend years working hard, with not much to show for it…it’s pretty depressing.

We’ve already identified certain groups as “the enemy.” No matter how hard we try to outdo them…we can’t defeat them. No matter how hard we strike…they strike back. No matter how many people we recruit to our side…they sucker just as many over to their side.

We start to regard them as a mix of lying, cheating, evil geniuses…and blundering, incompetent idiots.

That’s the only way we can rationalize to ourselves how so many people can work so hard for a good cause…yet we still find ourselves locked in combat with those transparently bad guys.

But eventually, we don’t just see those folks as our enemy.

Next, we turn on the uncommitted, the wishy-washy—the ones who haven’t chosen a side in this great battle between good and evil, or aren’t doing everything they can to support us good guys.

If they woke up, and realized what was at stake…if they saw how clearly right we are…if they cared or worked even half as hard as we do…we wouldn’t be stuck in this stalemate.

By sitting out, they’re letting the bad guys win.

So now we have two enemies: the original bad guys, and the people who aren’t as involved in this struggle as they “should” be.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Because any cause has internal strife: disagreements over minor tenets, or over how best to win the war.

Increasingly we wonder…what if we’re being held back?

What if the reason we haven’t won yet is because we’re being sabotaged—intentionally or unintentionally—by these people who claim to be on our side, but who in fact support beliefs or tactics that basically amount to surrendering to the bad guys?

Now we even see enemies among our own ranks!

I don’t know what you believe. But I’m telling you: regardless of what it is you’re trying to accomplish, this way of trying to do social change doesn’t work.

Because eventually, you’re only left with yourself and small band of people who see things exactly as you do…and you see everybody else as either an enemy or an enabler.

The more we, the people, are united, the stronger we are. The more we can hold our politicians and corporations accountable. The more we can address injustice in all its forms, even if we don’t always agree exactly what it is.

Yet we’re shackled to this two-party system which, by design, keeps us divided in half: at each other’s throats instead of on the same side.

If you want to know the real reason why the causes you support haven’t made much progress…that’s why.

It’s not about what we believe or how passionately we believe it.

It’s about defining our friends too narrowly, and our enemies too broadly.

It’s about the social forces that compel us to throw away our unity and our numbers—the very things that make people like us strong in an unequal, exploitative world.


This is the 84th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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