Following Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?’

It is one of the most profound statements ever made. And one that easily lends itself to relevance, considering the dominant dynamics in the world today. Wouldn’t the United States be better making friends with China, for example? Or wouldn’t China be better making friends with the United States, instead of all the brick-bats, threats and counter-threats about trade, which dominate global headlines today? Can we not find ‘warring entities’ around the world who would become ‘better’ if they adopted President Lincoln’s counsel? How many of these entities come readily to mind?

Clearly, it is more difficult following Lincoln’s counsel than doing otherwise. And it is more effective and more rewarding in the long run. The value of fighting or crushing the enemy to the dust, which is the strategy of some people, cannot be denied but it hardly goes beyond the ego boundary of its host.

The hardest part of following Lincoln is convincing the enemy. Of the goal to make them friends. After all the doubt, mistrust, suspicion and hate. The practicalities can be quite tasking but the outcomes are worth the effort.

For starters, making friends out of the enemy requires that one know the dominant hungers and thirsts of the enemy. Not biological hungers or thirsts for the enemy is not hungry for food or thirsty for water but the enemy is hungry for some things and thirsty for others.

Below are some of the commonest hungers and thirsts that can be isolated from most of the expressions of many who are in warring situations today (they may also be seen as cravings or needs):

  • The craving for significance (in specific and general dimensions)
  • The craving for belonginess
  • The craving for affirmation

Identifying the specifics of these cravings require painstaking research. Patience. Discretion. Focus and dedication. Creativity and ingenuity. All of which can be summarized as Intelligence work!

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