[DFT] Fw: [ChivalryToday] Chivalry and Enemies of Enemies

Seanan seanan.dft at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 11:58:41 PST 2005

Chivalry and Enemies of Enemies
By Scott Farrell
©2005, Shining Armor Enterprises


The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This is an axiom commonly quoted
in business, politics and sports. On the surface it may seem a valid
means of establishing relationships in a competitive environment, but
as we explore the principles of chivalry, we see that forming a
“partnership of enemies” is an undesirable proposition.

Now this may seem to be a perfect example of taking fair play to
absurd extremes. In any sort of contest, why not act in your own best
interest by giving support and aid to players who may weaken or
distract powerful rivals? This isn’t cheating or breaking the law;
it’s just smart tactics. Why would a warrior’s code of honor prohibit

The answer in this case doesn’t come from some medieval tale of King
Arthur, but rather from the article, “Hot Off The Store Shelves” in a
recent edition of the New York Times. The story involves a topic not
usually associated with knights and chivalry: shoplifting.

According to this article, retailers have traditionally assumed
shoplifting is an annoyance, a petty crime committed by ill-mannered
teenagers. Working under this assumption, retailers have been
notoriously secretive with shoplifting data. Businesses don’t want
the details of shoplifting losses or countermeasures made public
because retail policy is: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” If
shoplifters eat into the profits of your competitors, they’re
actually helping you in the long run. That has been the “smart
tactics” approach to shoplifting in the retail world.

But not long ago, the Times reports, the retail industry got a wake-
up call when the FBI launched a crackdown on this type of crime. At
the FBI’s prompting, retailers grudgingly compared notes and soon
realized that shoplifting was costing them $5 billion annually.
Motivated by this revelation, retailers cooperated with police to
uncover huge, organized shoplifting rings working right under their
noses — some with hundreds of employees, even providing benefits and
performance incentives. Big stores, hoping these “enemies of their
enemies” would damage their competitors, had tacitly created a
voracious monster that attacked friend and enemy alike.

Now retailers are at last reaching out to one another to help close
the gaping wounds in their security systems — but there is a lot of
catch-up work to be done, and many losses that will never be recovered.

Sir Geffroi de Charny, author of the 14th century manuscript called
“The Book of Chivalry,” knew that untrustworthy friends are more
dangerous than noble enemies. He wrote: “Those who say that they
themselves would never engage in evil works, but receive those who
commit ill deeds and support them and like them and value them the
better for it, have no regard for themselves. Hence it is often said
that he does mischief enough who helps mischief.”

Charny points to an essential premise about relationships and
chivalry: If you build ties of friendship based on nothing but
contention, you wind up surrounded by contentious friends.

There’s nothing unchivalrous about forming competitive alliances, but
friendship should always be founded on honor, trust and mutual
affection. The enemy of my enemy may in fact be my friend — but only
when I am confident that they will always act ethically and
chivalrously, no matter who their rivals, competitors or enemies may be.


What’s New At www.ChivalryToday.com?

- Dancing With Faith: A guest essay by David Anderson exploring the
importance of trust, respect and chivalry in any relationship;

- Four new stories of real-life heroes, champions and “knights in
shining armor” in our Portraits In Chivalry;

- Fun holiday gift ideas to share Chivalry Today with friends, family
members and co-workers.

All at www.ChivalryToday.com


Readers are permitted and encouraged to share this article with
others as a way of furthering the understanding of the Code of
Chivalry in the modern world. Scott Farrell’s seminars on chivalry
and the knightly virtues are available to businesses, schools and
civic organizations throughout the Southern California area; more
information can be found on our website. Please include all copyright
statements and attributions when forwarding Chivalry Today articles.
Copyright 2005 Scott Farrell and Shining Armor Enterprises. Visit our
website at www.ChivalryToday.com .

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