“We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Pogo


Photo from website: http://www.igopogo.com/cancover2.jpg ………………………………………………………………………….

Educator, Researcher, Counselor

Over the years, as I was helping families overcome educational and family problems, I became painfully aware of two things:

(1) The things for which family members and school students blamed others, often found their roots in their own behavior.

(2) The things I found the most frustrating and least rewarding in others were things of which I myself was guilty, often outside of my own awareness. That is to say, I was guilty of possessing the problems I was criticizing, and I was not even aware that in the eyes of others I possessed those very same traits.

Subconscious projection, as they say. (Isn’t all projection subconscious?)

Look to yourself

Sometimes when parents or teachers were railing away against their children or students, and they were particularly sincere in their own eyes, I would ask them quietly if they had ever had occasion to be guilty of the offense being railed against.

For example, the child or student may be acting in a selfish manner (it is objectively true that they are doing this), and I would ask the parents or teacher:

“Have you ever had occasion to be selfish?” Sometimes this would bring a thoughtful pause. As often as not, it would bring denial and defensiveness.

So I soon learned to phrase the question in a different way, after prefacing with my admission that I could remember times when I myself had acted in a selfish manner, not about the specific things the kids were being selfish about of course, yet I had acted selfish in different matters. Then I would tell them specifically how I had been selfish. Only then I would ask:

“What are some specific things about which you have been selfish in your life?”

As often as not, this would bring about a fruitful discussion which was more helpful to the kids than a lecture.

Complaints often point back to us

When I am complaining, I may not recognize that the problem at hand may be caused as much by me as by those upon whom I am casting blame. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Pogo, Walt Kelly’s famous comic-strip swamp character. (Was he an alligator or a crocodile?)

Pogo summed us up nicely:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”


Doc Meek, Thursday, June 17, 2010

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

P.S. “Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

“There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.


– Walt Kelly, June 1953

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October 2020
Parent and Teacher Choice