Art, to be sure, has its roots in the lives of human beings: the weakness, the strength, the absurdity. I doubt that it is limited to our comrades; since we have discovered that art does not belong to what was once the aristocracy, it does not therefore follow that it has become the exclusive property of the common man—which abstraction, by the way, I have yet to meet. Rather, since it is involved with all of us, it belongs to all of us, and this includes our foes, who are as desperate and as vicious and as blind as we are and who can only be as evil as we are ourselves.
James Baldwin in a 1947 review of Gorky’s novel Mother.
“Did we really do these things to her?” I asked.
“Yes. All here’s true.”
“And we said we loved her.”
“And we did. She had no more dangerous enemies than us. And in that far distant day when the gods become wholly beautiful, or we at last are shown how beautiful they always were, this will happen more and more. For mortals, as you said, will become more and more jealous. And mother and wife and child and friend will all be in league to keep a soul from being united with the Divine Nature.”
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis.
One could dare say that a man’s friends do more harm to his soul than his enemies. The Lord Himself said, ‘A man’s foes, shall be they of his own household’ (Matthew 10:36; Micah 7:6). Those who live under the same roof with us, and who are so concerned for our bodily needs and comfort, are often the worst enemies of our salvation, for their love and concern are not aimed at our soul but our body. How many parents have done inestimable damage to the souls of their sons [daughters], and brothers and sisters to the souls of their siblings, and wives to the souls of their husbands [and vice versa]? And this all out of love for them! This realisation, that is confirmed every day, is a further solid reason for us not to give ourselves over too completely to love of our kinsfolk and friends, nor to lesson our love of our enemies. Is it necessary to say once again, that often, very often, our enemies are our true friends? The ways in which they unsettle us are of help to us; the ways in which they denounce us serve for our salvation; the ways in which they press on our outward, physical life help us to withdraw inwards, into ourselves, and find our souls cry to the living God to save them. In very truth, our enemies are often those who save us from the ruin that our kinsfolk prepare, inadvertently making our characters lax and feeding up our bodies at the cost of our souls.
St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies Vol 2, 19th Sunday After Pentecost, p. 196