The title today seems to be a generalisation that I wrote about a few weeks ago. However, digging deeper, one will find out that it is not. God willed that each human should be unique; a reality that translates into personal interests that we cherish, protect, and promote. Since each person is unique and has unique interests, there is bound to be a clash of personal interests in every relationship.
Hence, Chinasa Ugwuanyi defines conflict as “a state of tension that exists when one party perceives that its goals, needs, desires, or expectations are being blocked by another party” . Indeed, conflict is ubiquitous and a normal part of social living.
Against this backdrop, everyone is always an enemy because, in life, our interests will always clash with another. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an enemy as “one who is antagonistic to another”. It could be someone who does not agree with our ideas; one competing with us for an opportunity, an academic prize, a political office, or a special recognition; one competing with us in the same business or economic benefit or for popular support. Whether we prefer the term “rival”, “adversary”, or “opponent”, the idea remains the same—someone whose interests clash with ours.
Conflicts occur at all levels of relationships and as these conflicts could be small or large, obvious, or hidden, and brief or long-lasting, the degree or duration to which one is an adversary varies according to the context. We may argue that we have no ill feelings against another. Yes, this is true. Unfortunately, being an enemy does not depend on what we think about ourselves, but on how others see us.
I often ponder when an entire congregation, with ferocious intensity, prays that God kills all their enemies. If God were to answer that prayer, I doubt if anybody in that Church would depart the prayer ground alive. We might argue that when we pray against our enemies, we have a particular issue in mind; however, we recall that St Paul says:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19).
Without justifying the action of owing salaries, I once asked a congregation whose prayers God will answer between the owed workers who prayed for the death of Governor Rochas Okorocha, and those benefitting from his administration who went for thanksgiving every Sunday praying for his welfare🤷🏾♂️.
With the prevalence of cross-carpeting of Nigerian politicians from one party to another, one asks if an enemy does not suddenly become an ally and vice versa. The story of Adams Oshiomole and Godwin Obaseki at the Edo State gubernatorial elections of 2016 and 2020 comes to mind. Since religion and politics are interconnected, prayers against the enemy, here, become a mockery.
While the idea of praying for the death of the enemy stems from our traditional religious ideology of “back to sender”, Jesus never followed that line of thought. He knew about the dynamics of being an enemy, which was why he said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, ‘Do not resist one who is evil’…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:38-39,43-44).
Moreover, he taught us to forgive those who offend us seventy times seven (Matt 18: 21-22).
Of course, we naturally want to protect our interests. A better disposition should be to pray that God blesses our intentions and promotes our interests. He knows how best to do them. Psalm 23:5 says:
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies”.
May God continue to help us.🙏🏾
 C. Ugwuanyi, Environmental Security & Conflict Resolution. Lagos: National Open University of Nigeria, 2014, 200.