I’ve always heard the phrase “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” but never really understood the meaning. Sun Tzu meant that it is imperative for you to know your enemy. Their movements, plans of action, and all weaknesses/vulnerabilities are crucial bits of information in order for you to protect yourself. After reading parts of Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power,” I got a better sense of the old phrase. Greene has convinced me that one has much more to lose and fear through a friend than an enemy. Why? Because friends have privileged information and furthermore your trust. In my experience, it was never really my enemies who were able to hurt me, but it was usually some of my best and closest friends that were capable of doing damage. I do remember a time when I befriended an enemy back in high school. I absolutely did not like the guy at all and he didnt think of me well either. But through some strange events, we became friends and to this day he is the most loyal. We became friends after the day when I dropped my wallet in the hall but I was walking too fast for him to flag me down. He picked up my wallet and saved it for me till the next day. He was the last person I was expecting to do something like that for me and the gratitude/respect was sort of engrained into me. To this day, he is one of my most oldest and loyal friend. I still don’t quite understand the concept of “learn how to use your enemies” or “keep them closer” but I have a slight grasp on how sometimes your enemies can prove more reliable than your friends.
Annotation: The quote is the title from a chapter in Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power”
Greene, Robert. The 48 Laws of Power. London: Profile Books, 2000. pg. 8