Keep Everyone Close …

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Mario Puzo   The Godfather, Part II  

Footnote from Often misattributed to Sun Tzu, it is actually spoken by the character Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part II. The quote begins, “My father taught me many things here…he taught me in this room. He taught me…”

Ahhh, The Godfather … as Tom Hanks so memorably tells us in “You’ve Got Mail“:

Joe Fox: The Godfather is the I-ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” What day of the week is it? “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.” 

… and the featured quote is simply more evidence of this.

Keeping our friends close is probably a no-brainer.

We need the support of those who we trust and draw energy from the closeness of intimacy.  When you already consider someone an ally, shared moments only bring you closer to them, for the most part.

It’s easy to keep our friends close, because we seek that closeness.  Facebook allows us to reconnect and stay in connection with friends from long ago and far away.   This is a major part of the appeal of social media networking in general.

Keeping our enemies closer is somewhat more counter-intuitive.

We usually do not enjoy close contact with our enemies.  We may respect them in some ways, but we do not like being around them.  So why should we do so, based on advice from a fictional character in a movie?

1)  Closeness can provide opportunities to learn about others and to develop more nuanced relationships.  Interacting with others in proximity provides valuable lessons in the range and variety of behaviors and emotions which exist in every human.   

2)  Keeping everyone in your world close breaks down the myth that friends are close and others are not.  We live in a world of change and yesterday’s enemy is sometimes tomorrow’s valued ally.

3)  Doing so challenges the traditional perception of what an enemy is.   While I think it simplistic to say things like “A stranger is just a friend you have not yet met”, we do have to acknowledge how getting to know someone changes your perceptions of that person, often in positive ways.

After all, getting to know people who are different from you is a basic tool in fighting stereotyping, prejudice, bias, and discrimination, isn’t it?

Trying to make room for everyone in the Heartland ….