Tips, Videos, Handouts

Listen to your enemies

The best way to disarm your enemies is to listen to them. Craig explains how this works.

And in this spontaneous video Craig references a broadcast by former undercover agent Amaryllis Fox, who explains her experiences with interrogating enemies and why they fight against the United States.

If you want to learn more about how listening helps make peace, check out these and other Good Group Tips that Craig has written:  Listen,  Start with a question,  A way to talk.

Here’s what Craig says in the video.

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

There’s this video going around the Internet. It’s made by a former undercover agent; her name is Amaryllis Fox. She has been in lots of conversations with enemies of the United States and she has learned that the only way to truly disarm our enemies is to listen to them.

Now this is a concept that I have been writing about and talking about for years because I know this to be true from my own experience. When I take the time to listen to my enemy I understand that that person probably wants the same basic things that I want. These people who are making war against the United States; why are they doing it? It’s because they want a good future for their children. They want a safe place to live. They want good jobs. And given the circumstances that they are in and the things that they have been taught, they are doing what they think is the right thing to do.

What tends to happen when we don’t listen to our enemies and really understand their motivations is that we make them out to be “a bad guy.” We assume that what they want is to kill us, and that makes us want to kill them, and armed conflict rises.

Now this gal, Amaryllis Fox, she is talking about international conflict but exactly the same principles apply when it comes to conflicts within organizations, within neighborhoods, within families. You know, I may think that that guy three cubicles down is my enemy. I make assumptions about him and where he’s coming from based on the few things that I see. And that causes me to do bad things to him, and without a conversation he does more bad things to me, etc.

The way to disarm that situation is to have a conversation, but start with a question and listen. It’s not having a conversation in which my goal is to persuade him that I am right. That creates more conflict. It’s about listening. It’s when I listen to my enemy that I understand where they’re coming from, why they’re doing the things that they’re doing, and I understand that they’re actually not so bad after all.

Here’s another thing that Amaryllis mentions. I begin to understand that actually that guy three cubicles down or that guy pointing a rifle at Americans in a foreign country, is not really angry at me but they’re angry at some policy, some rule, some situation, that they’re in. That’s something that we can both work on together. We can work together to change a policy or to change the situation; to change the way we work together better. That’s how you make peace.

You know sometimes, oftentimes actually, we have this idea that when we are mad at somebody — when we think of somebody else as the bad guy — the courageous respectful thing to do is to engage in combat with them. I don’t believe that. I think that the courageous respectful thing to do — actually the harder thing to do — is to have a conversation. And begin that conversation with a question and really listen throughout the entire conversation and see where that leads. That’s how we disarm our enemies. That’s how we move towards world peace.

One thought on “Listen to your enemies

  1. Nice one, Craig. It just makes sense to first listen and try to learn from those who would harm us. This reminds me of a legendary Munk debate I heard between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens about the role of religion in the world. At the end a student in the audience stood up and said: “A big part of this issue is our inability to stand in another’s shoes, with an open mind to understand a different world view. In this regard, can each of you tell us which of your opponent’s arguments is the most convincing?“ I loved that! How different would the world be if we tried to appreciate our opponents’ reasoning rather than assuming we already know?

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