“Love your enemy”
Who doesn’t know what a Dalek is? Who, when they were young didn’t cower behind the settee from those maniacal pepper-pot shaped baddies, armed with nothing more than a sink-plunger and egg whisk? Evil killing machines that couldn’t be stopped by the best that human arsenals had to offer? (Apart from a flight of stairs)
Yet, despite this, the Daleks are scary. I think it is easy to be scared and frightened of the Daleks because, well, they are so different from us. Metallic monsters, without even the slightest sign of any emotion other than to “Exterminate”; it is very easy to hate or be frightened of things or people who are different.
The Daleks were created by the scientist Davros on the planet Skaro as the ultimate battlefield weapon, to win for the Kaled people, a thousand year war which had reached stalemate centuries before. Davros was the king of his own little world, and through his creations hoped to perpetuate himself; he had creating the supreme being in the universe, giving him the power of life and death, the ultimate power, that of God.
Daleks work so well as “baddies” – I dislike using that term as it suggests polar opposites, no grey areas; but one also has to remember that one persons’ baddy is another persons’ goody – because at one very obvious level they are so different from us, they’re not human. But strip away that outer casing and inside there is a humanoid creature who has been bred to hate, bred to believe in a single ideology, bred with the simple yet devastating logic that any other creature than a Dalek has to be, well, exterminated.
One of the things that we do to our enemies is to dehumanise, or demonise them. By doing so we take away the fact that we are fighting someone like us. The moral ground is gone; “our” side gets the moral high ground because the other side are monsters.
In our recent history the Nazis in Germany responded to the fragile variety of the human condition with the same logic as the Daleks – Exterminate. Dehumanising the Jews, Homosexuals, Communists – in fact every group they were opposed to or opposed to them – not only in a battle for hearts and minds which enabled them to carry out the atrocities that they did, but also to show how they, the Nazis were supreme to every other group or ideology.
When opposing ideologies clash both sides go to polar extremes to show that their way is the better and in order to keep their ideology pure, to maintain the clash of arms, the opposition is dehumanised – it’s so much easier to fight a group who you believe aren’t human and not worth to live because of what they believe in. We become exactly like our enemies.
When the Doctor faced what he believed was the last of the Daleks, in a show-down of words, he ended up in such a rage of hatred that he screamed at the Dalek “Why don’t you just die and rid the Universe of your filth?!”. There is a pause and the Dalek responds coolly, “You would make a good Dalek”. Unwittingly, in his desire to rid the Universe of what he perceives as “filth” the Doctor has become just like the Daleks – believing every other form of life has a right to live, other than Daleks.
The Politician Napoleon Bonaparte said “know your enemy, know yourself”. And that is true. In knowing your enemy you do know yourself as generally your enemy represents those things you dislike the most in the world, and ultimately, those you dislike the most about yourself and know of which you are capable of.
Not only does de-humanising our enemies help us to attack them, but it also frees us from the knowledge that our opponents are thinking, breathing, living, loving human beings. It takes the knowledge and guilt away that our brothers and sisters are guilty of atrocities and war crimes. Isn’t it so easy to explain away the Nazis, for example, because they were all “brainwashed” and “weren’t like us”? To wash our collective Human hands of our own crimes?
Again, return to the image of the Dalek – superficially nothing like us. A metallic creature that doesn’t think or feel, yet inside is a living being not far too removed from us who is doing what it thinks is right. It reminds us that our enemies no matter how dehumanised we make them, no matter how far we distance ourselves from atrocities carried out by others, our enemies are our brothers and sisters. Not only that, but it reminds us of the darkness which exist in people.
Jesus, Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Stalin and Hitler are all part of the same universal family!
So, if we cannot dehumanise our enemies, blame them on some force other than humanity, what can we do and how do we proceed with our enemies? The Liberation Theology of the 1960’s and 1970s, particularly amongst the Feminists in Scandinavia had, and still has, a motto which we can all learn from: “Not to do to them what they did to us.” A motto, you have to admit, is very close to words by Jesus of Nazareth “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but I think more aptly for this service, words from the Sermon on the Mount “Love your enemies”.
If you love your enemy, you will try to understand them, understand why they are your enemy, no matter how entrenched opposing views are, and trying to find points of commonality, rather than disagreement. Loving your enemy not only means to know them, but to forgive them – forgive them for what they have done, a love of reconciliation. But it's painful to go to somebody that we've hurt, and it's painful to go to somebody that we've talked about, and it's painful even to go to somebody who we know has been talking about us, and have reconciliation with them and put peace between us, and be peacemakers - and as Philippians says, esteem one another better than ourselves - why? Because it is putting to death ourselves, and that's painful, it's not natural! The puritan Cotton Mather, once received a bundle of letters - poison pen letters - do you know what he did? He put them up on his shelf and he wrapped around them this label: 'Father forgive them'. Are you a peacemaker?
Moreover, if you truly love someone, how can you hate them? Indeed, in Dr Who Rose, the Doctor’s Companion, does just that. She isn’t frightened of the Dalek – she doesn't know why people are scared of Daleks, she simply encounters and alien creature that is in pain and being tortured. She befriends it, and the Dalek is confronted with the first person ever not to run away from it or attack it. It begins to change. It befriends Rose and even protects her – that is the effect of loving one’s enemy. Your enemy is no longer an enemy.
But for this one, lone Dalek, it begins to mutate. Its Dalek DNA changes, having absorbed some of Roses' human DNA, it develops emotions – something it has never experienced in it life – and wants to feel the touch of sunlight on its body, outside of its armoured casing. Even as this Dalek creature is changing, it hates itself. It is no longer a pure Dalek, and according to its own devastating logic, must not exist, and so commits suicide.
This is true for us. The only true enemy that you have is yourself. Your ego is your enemy. The struggle in everyone's life is within themselves, between your ego and your soul. This struggle is over which will command your heart and your mind, your ego which only knows judgment or your soul which only knows compassion. By learning to love yourself you are learning to love your enemy. Your soul is taking command of your heart and your mind. The more you let your soul command your heart and your mind the more you will understand who you truly are. You cannot love and have compassion for your brothers and sisters here on the earth plane until you can learn to love and have compassion for yourself.
The saying "You are your own worst enemy," truly has a whole new meaning. Understanding the truth of that one simple statement is a very powerful message; the key to everything is simply to be the love that you are. You will truly love your enemy, which is yourself.