I watched The Godfather when it was first shown on television in the 1970s. I watched it with my father.
My father was a man who was liked by many people. His standing amongst his peers was peerless. At his funeral, my uncle, Dad’s older brother, broke down and sobbed. My sister’s sobbed, my mother sobbed. I controlled myself so as not to risk his wrath, even though he was dead. I kept myself together and delivered his elegy, one that I had written for him to hear. I didn’t want my last words to falter; that would have been a betrayal.
The thing with enemies is that they are out in the open. There are pitched battles, open disagreements, sharp volleys of conversation exchange. With enemies, it is easy. False friends are something else. These people have never really ever been a friend, to anyone. They serve themselves whilst eating at your table. They chat, they smile, they understand your problems. On the whole, they make you feel good about yourself as they lavish praise upon qualities that you always hoped you possessed. They seem to swear undivided loyalty to you and your cause, but at the very first wiff of trouble, they change sides.
I have met a number of these ‘friends’ throughout my life and have never fully given them the due that they truly deserve. I suppose that this is an appropriate moment.
My life has been plagued by you and your falsehoods. You have made me wary. You have made me afraid. You have made me lose my trust. You have made me lose my faith. You have stood watching as everything that kept me together flew off into the wind. You have witnessed my downfall, have been indifferent to my struggles, cared nothing for my wife and children who have had to pick up the pieces of my broken mind.
‘It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.’
The above rant shows anyone how distrustful I have become of those who feign affection or interest. There are self-servers out there, people who are not so much intent upon pursuing their own agenda, but are individuals who ferment their right to do as they do. It takes an elevated position from which to judge the folly of others, from which to deign to intervene, offer advice, or simply rush in wth support. If life was a battle, the false friends would be those sitting atop a nearby hill watching the unfolding of events. They would watch the foolish charges, the brave stupidity, and the wasted intent. Before the final shots were fired, they would have long-since gone, back to their homes, and back to the ones they really care for. For the defeated, there would be defeat and isolation; nobody likes a loser.
But what happens when the defeated come back? There will be no more flocking to their banners. No more pledges. And no more more promises. Betrayal doesn’t pave a way back. For those who practice it, there is never any need to return to those that have run headlong into calamity.
All that they need is another flag to follow, another potential benefactor.