Loving Your Enemies in Ender’s Game

Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. How can we love them if we don’t understand them, if we don’t take the time to know them? In the novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Ender Wiggin unintentionally learns the best way to love one’s enemies, and he never forgets it. Though just a child deprived of a family’s love and friendship, Ender does what most adults can never do – he loves those that society tells him he’s supposed to hate.

Ender’s Game takes place in a distant future, when our world had been almost destroyed in two invasions by an alien race called the buggers. In the second invasion, the humans were able to force the buggers to retreat, though at great cost. They’ve had peace for about 70 years now but have been expecting another attack from the buggers. In preparation for this third invasion, the leaders of different countries created the International Fleet – an army that trains children to fight battles in zero gravity on a spaceship. All children on Earth are closely monitored to see if they are eligible for this Battle School. At age six, Ender, the youngest of three young geniuses, is chosen to leave his family and train to save his world, and the book details his life through training to the end of the war.

Ender always looks at life by thinking three steps ahead, even at age six. His brilliance flourishes in the Battle School, and he quickly advances, accomplishing many feats that children twice his age can’t do. This, of course, causes the other children to be jealous and Ender to feel isolated. The adults in command of the school keep Ender busy with training and mock battles, manipulating and controlling his life so that he has no close friends. They don’t want anything to distract him from his training, not even love, because he is their last hope to destroy the buggers. With the fate of the world on his little shoulders, Ender becomes the best commander the adults have ever seen – a quick thinker, a strategist, a hard worker, and, what they wanted most, a killer.

Ender, however, hates himself for this trait. He is terrified of becoming just like his brilliant but cruel older brother, Peter, who tormented him before Ender left for Battle School. He tries to be compassionate, but what he doesn’t realize is that this is exactly what sets him apart from Peter. Ender doesn’t want to hurt people. Several boys bully him at different points in the novel, but because Ender knows how the other boys think and what is motivating them, Ender defeats the bullies, strategically and systematically. Afterwards, though, he always feels guilty. Ender defeats his enemies because otherwise his enemies would have hurt or killed him; but at the moment that Ender defeats them, he loves them. He feels compassion for them. He understands how to love his enemies and doesn’t want to destroy them. He tells his sister, Valentine:

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…I destroy them” (page 238).

Ender’s greatest quality, the thing that makes him different from all the other children, is not his ability to wipe out his enemy completely but his ability to learn about and understand people, even his enemies. He’s the only one who takes the time to understand them, to know their past and the reasons for their actions. And it’s only when he understands his enemies that he loves them and wants to live at peace. There are two ways to destroy an enemy. One is to defeat through harm. The other way is by turning him into a friend. Ender does not want to destroy his enemies; he would rather befriend them and love them.

Not only does Ender love his human enemies, but he even learns to love the alien enemies, those who almost destroyed his world. Though not instructed to by any adults, Ender spends hours and hours trying to understand the buggers, how they think, why they attacked Earth, and how they live. When he does finally understand them, he doesn’t want to destroy them; he wants to live in peace with them. The adults want him to defeat the buggers and completely wipe them out, but Ender wants to forgive them and be friends. The one person who is able to defeat the buggers is the only human who loves the buggers. I don’t know what the movie version of Ender’s Game teaches, but if there’s one thing you learn from the book, though there is much to learn from it, I hope you learn how to better love those you’re “supposed” to hate.

“I met Harrison Ford!”: Reflections on Celebrity Worship

Yesterday, I met Harrison Ford.

It was one of those classic L.A. moments that all of my friends back home assume that I have every day. My coworkers and I strolled out of our Santa Monica offices, stretching our cubicle-weary legs, headed for the food trucks at the center of the business park. On our way, we passed two fellow assistants.

“Guess who we saw back there!” they exclaimed.

They told us.

We got a little excited. They resumed power-walking back to the office to clock in on time.

One of the guys and I started to awkwardly gallop in the direction they’d pointed, while the other guy laughed.

“Do you think they’re for real? Are we really gonna run? Why would they have said they saw him? I bet they’re full of it.”

We slowed to a more professional pace, too cool to look like idiots once we were out in the open. We casually scoped, but grew doubtful. My running-mate coworker shrugged and made for the Greek truck. My eyes lighted on the ever-popular “India Jones” truck—always the best choice for curry. Wouldn’t it be funny if…

I turned to my skeptic coworker.

“That old guy isn’t…nah…?”

We paused. Right next to India Jones stood a gentleman in jeans and tinted glasses, with quite a few decades under his belt. And he seemed oddly familiar. My coworker, a skeptic no more, quietly confirmed what we both knew.

“That is Harrison [expletive deleted] Ford.”

After a few seconds of panicky-excited deliberation, we agreed to be each other’s celebrity wingman. We walked OH SO CASUALLY over to India Jones, and I thought about how glad I was that I’d decided to wear a nice dress this particular Monday. Somehow I forced myself the last couple of feet to casually interrupt.

“Excuse me, but am I right that the fact that you’re by this particular truck is ironic?”

“Yes,” Harrison Ford said. “It’s super ironic.”

I somehow managed to squeak out a request for a picture, and he thanked me for my polite approach, but declined.
“It’s not you,” he assured me. I nodded my total understanding. He could be easily mobbed with this many people. It only made sense. Thank you. Nice to meet you.

We maintained our casualness for the first ten feet before booking our way over to the Greek truck to tell our other office-mate what he’d missed.

We were the talk of the lunch table.

Now that I’ve worked in L.A. for a while, you might think that celebrity sightings get old. After all, this isn’t my first famous-person rodeo. But it still takes all of my twenty-something willpower not to freak out or go for a stealth picture. I know it’s not Hollywood professional, but I still haven’t quite shaken the fan-girl in me.

And on top of it, so much more than the sighting is the story. It’s not just that I saw Lance Bass from N*Sync, it’s that I got to ask him what he thought of the new Justin Timberlake album. Again, of course, with this record-high level of forced casualness.

A friend of mine was telling me the other day about the time she saw Jennifer Lawrence. Standing in the midst of a huge crowd all shoving and straining to see her go by, my friend thought back to the reasons why people love Ms. Lawrence.

“She’s so down to earth! I feel like we could be best friends!”

And yet, my friend concluded, none of us ever will be.

Which is the thing about celebrity worship. We try so hard to be close just to be able to act like we know Han Solo any better than the next guy. We memorize trivia and analyze hairstyles. We wait uncomfortably for hours just to maybe catch a glimpse or a Marcus Mumford guitar pick. Just to have that story.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matt. 9:20-22 NIV)

Matthew tells about a celebrity sighting that was worth way more than a Facebook photo. A lifetime of pain, gone.

What a story.

How great that there’s a Famous One who isn’t only found on Rodeo Drive wearing concealing Ray-Bans, but who can be found by anyone who seeks. We won’t even be a bother to him if we interrupt. He likes it.

And we have no reason to be nervous to come near him. We already have his autograph on our hearts. And he’s shown us, by just how “down to earth” he became, that he really could be our best friend.

We can awkward-gallop towards the throne of grace with confidence—heedless of those intimidating angel bodyguards—and tell the biggest celebrity of all time,

“Hey, I’m a big fan of your work.”

And the crazy details of our run-in with him will be a story we tell forever.