No Enemies helps participants think about who is considered an enemy and why. Learning to see our so-called “enemies” through new eyes is at the very heart of personal and social transformation. Using examples from Ruby Sales, Tran Van Dinh and Andrew Young, the lesson suggests ways of redefining our relationship to struggles for justice so that individuals and groups are not demonized.

  1. Participants will examine the practical value of learning to see “enemies” in new ways
  2. Participants will discuss how relating to one’s adversaries in new ways could be employed in their own lives or in the broader society
  3. Participants will analyze the role that societal structures play in creating “enemies”
  1. Ruby Sales clip “Faith in Elders: White Men Do Not Control the World“.
  2. Andrew Young clip “The Spirit of King at the UN“.
  3. Tran Van Dinh clip “Supposedly Our Enemies“.
  4. Paper, pens and markers (or a blackboard)
  1. Ask the group to think about what ideas come to mind when they hear the term “enemy.” Have each person write down a few ideas in silence, and then share their ideas with the whole group.
  2. Write their responses on a large sheet of paper or blackboard.
  3. Discuss the list, and the kinds of feelings associated with the terms on the board. Ask people to consider what kinds of responses these qualities listed on the board tend to evoke in us? Who decides what groups and individuals should be considered “enemies”? What purpose does it serve to identify people that way? How do we typically treat our enemies? Where do we learn that?
  4. The video resources for this lesson focus on stories of people re-defining their relationship to “so-called enemies.” As participants prepare to watch the clips, ask them to think about what kinds of resources and experiences – spiritual traditions, cultural practices, social structures, etc – help make it possible to have more human relationships with people who are adversaries or oppressors.
  5. Ask participants to break up into three groups (or multiples of three if necessary). Each group will focus on responding to one of the video clips, although everyone will watch them all together.
  6. Introduce Ruby Sales with some background about her biography – her youth in Columbus, Georgia and her work in the Southern Freedom Movement. Ask the group that is paying particularly close attention to her clip to be ready to share their insights with the larger group once they’ve had a chance to discuss the clip among themselves.
  7. Show the video clip from Sales’ interview, “Faith in Elders: White Men Do Not Control the World.
  8. Introduce Andrew Young with attention to his background as a colleague of Martin Luther King, a minister and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter. Again, ask the group that will focus on Young’s clip to pay particular attention to his story and to be prepared to share their thoughts after discussing them among themselves.
  9. Show the video clip from Young’s interview, “The Spirit of King at the UN”.
  10. Introduce Tran Van Dinh – a retired professor of Communication and a former member of the anti-colonial resistance movement in Vietnam. Tell the group reporting on his clip to watch it especially closely.
  11. Show the video clip from Tran Van Dinh’s interview, “Supposedly Our Enemies”.
  12. Once all three clips have been seen, let the groups meet and discuss how they each encourage us to think about the concept of “enemies” in different ways? Have groups consider what role religion, family and personal experience may have played in the perspectives discussed in the video clips? What kind of insight about how to treat “enemies” comes from having been treated unjustly oneself?
  13. As part of the small group discussions, ask people to share examples of situations in which the approaches that Sales, Young and Tran describe would make a positive difference in their own lives and in society at large.
  14. Gather the large group together again and ask volunteers to share stories from the small group. On chart paper, list the examples that people share to return to later, possibly as a project to explore for a mural, a short play, a series of poems or other artistic interpretations.