April 2, 2012
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

Greek proverb

April 13, 2011
On societies, relationships, and stagnation.

Humans are social creatures, we’re really too weak and pathetic to live on our own, so we band together into societies so that we can, as a greater whole, brave the elements. Or, at least, this was the case for thousands of years. Now our societies are so imposing we reconstruct the world we live in to suit us and it is the world that hopes to brave us. But that’s neither here nor there; the point is that we are stuck with societies.

And with societies come relationships. You have your parents, your grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, that creepy aunt no one wants to talk about… And then you have the relationships you have more of a say in — your friends. Your friends are important because you choose to be around them, you like them because they’re like you, and the more you’re around each other the more you each become as one another. Friends are especially important because of their support. Ideally, friends should support your dreams, goals, and endeavors. They should try to lift you up so that you may reach your final potential. And when you fall, they should help pick you back up. “Friends are important,” I think most of us that aren’t creepy aspie neckbeards would agree with that statement.

However, there are two other social relationships that I haven’t talked about yet that are just as important as friendship. The first is rivalry a rival is more like an acquaintance that does something you do at nearly the same level you do it. Through your often unspoken challenge you each try to best the other in the thing you do. This is the basis for way too many anime, but the reason is clear: by trying to best another you are bettering yourself. Rivals do oftentimes what no friend can, they make you push yourself beyond your own limits to reach greatness that would likely be beyond your reach had you only friends around. As much as friends support, they can often lead to stagnation. Friends like you because you are who you are, not for whom you could be, so implicitly friends tend to resist change in you, whereas a rival does the opposite.

And, finally, we come to enemies. An enemy is very much like a rival except instead of being somewhat neutral the enemy actually openly displays ill will for you, and (in a good enemy relationship) you openly display your disdain for them as well. I say a “good” enemy relationship because I think there can be made a distinction between good and bad enemies. A good enemy is an open enemy, you know them and they know you, you are both open about your feelings and those feelings are mutual. A “bad” enemy relationship is one sided, oftentimes one party will never know they have an enemy; all the while their enemy sets out to do what they can to undo the other person. Honestly this sort of un-relationship isn’t helpful to either party. I do not recommend making secret enemies.

The benefits to a “good” enemy relationship may not be readily apparent, however, they can be very much the same as the benefits gained from having a rival. Indeed, line between just what constitutes a rival and what constitutes an enemy, can sometimes blur. In an enemy you have hate, a motivator almost as good as love in my book. That sort of inner fire can help you grow and do. [Insert some quip about the dark side here.] Perhaps what you grow into and do may be unsavory, but at the very least, you’ll be growing and learning just what your limits actually are.

The point is growth and change.

Stagnation is a slow and pathetic death.