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Principle Number Five: Love Your Enemy

The anti-bully movement is unintentionally promoting hatred.

This is an installment in a series called “Ten Principles for Moral Discipline.” They are meant to form the basis of a moral, effective school bullying policy.

Published on February 20, 2012 by Izzy Kalman in A Psychological Solution to Bullying

The idea of “loving your enemy” was made famous by Jesus, but this principle is also recognized by most major religions and philosophies.

Love Your Enemy is the ultimate expression of the Golden Rule. Why? How would you like it if your enemies loved you? Great! They would no longer be your enemies! So since you would like your enemies to love you, you have to love them. If you love them, they cease being your enemies. Assuming you have real contact with them—you will have the chance to turn them into friends.

Treat others the way you want to be treated and Whatever is hateful to yourself, do not do to others, are behavioral formulations of the Golden Rule. Love you enemy is the emotional formulation. If we follow the behavioral formulations, we need to consciously consider the right thing to do in each separate situation. When we follow the emotional formulation and feel love for others, we will usually treat them the right way without needing to constantly deliberate about it.

Loving our enemies does not mean that we must let them abuse, injure or kill us. When we truly love people, we have to stop them—with force if necessary—from doing things that can harm themselves or other innocent people. But we do it from love, not hatred.

Unfortunately, the anti-bully movement promotes hatred—hatred of bullies. This may not be the intention, but it is the result. The academic definition of a bully is the same as that of a psychopath, and the definition of bullying is the as that of evil, making it natural for us to think of bullies in horrific ways. Thus, it has become common for adults, including bullying experts, to talk about bullying as equivalent to rape, murder and genocide and to refer to bullies (including children) as demons, emotional vampires, monsters, terrorists, and perpetrators. They often refer to bullies as having horns, as expressed by books and newspaper articles with titles like, “Take the Bullies by the Horns.” Is it any wonder, then, that people freely express hatred towards bullies and their parents, call for “eradication” of bullies, demand that bullies be expelled from school, and allow violence-inciting posters like, “The Only Good Bully is a Dead One,” to be posted on the

Internet without criticism?

No one is perfect. Human beings aren’t angels who are only capable of doing good, and few of us are saints. Virtually all of us behave in ways that upset some people and can get us labeled as bullies. We need to love people the way they are, including those who treat us in ways we don’t like. We cannot promote universal love and tolerance by posting “No Bully Zone” signs on school walls, instructing students how to identify their classmates who are bullies, describing bullies as evil psychopaths and conducting anti-bully campaigns.

It is easy to love our friends. The hard part is to love our enemies. The day we replace our “No Bully Zone” posters with ones that read “Love Your Enemy,” that’s when we will witness the emergence of a Utopian society.

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.” —Mohandas Gandhi


Read Previous Installments to this series:

We have also created a proposal for a moral, effective school bullying policy based on the Golden Rule. We welcome you to use it, and if you like it, recommend it to your school administration:

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