broken parabolic



6 May 2010

Sometimes your greatest allies are the unlikely ones, the ones you never expected to find beside you on the same side of the barricade. It's even a little humbling sometimes to turn your head and see the face of your old enemy, rifle in hand, wearing perhaps a bemused or ironic grin but no less invested in the new task at hand. You both wear scars that you likely gave each other. Your sense of moral superiority, perhaps overdue for a thrashing, gets knocked down a peg or two. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," the saying goes, though I'm not sure where it really comes from. And that's the funny thing about some enemies: they fight just as fiercely beside you as they ever fought against you.

We need this to happen to us once in a while. When our old, or merely presumed, adversaries surprise us, when we finally discover that unexpected common ground, there's a little bit of our badly-beaten but precious faith in humanity that is restored, almost always at the expense of our own sense of self-righteousness. None of us has a monopoly on the moral high ground; our harshest critics and most vocal opponents probably share our stance on something and would gladly storm the gates alongside us, given the right particular battle.

It forces us to think better of others. And when we do, something else unexpected happens: we realize that it brings us far more happiness to think well of someone else than it does to think well of ourselves. That self-righteousness carries with it both an emptiness and a subtle bitterness that we don't even realize is there.

Nick Cave might have been wrong. Perhaps people just ain't so bad. Sometimes.

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