Like with the Maxims about friends and friendship, we generally have fewer true enemies than we would tend to think. A true enemy, like a true friend, is a rare thing indeed in our lives. That is what makes this Maxim interesting to me.
A sage once said “Love your enemies” as well as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and while I agree with the principle of loving people, I have a difficult time loving the people who would be actively trying to harm me if they were able to do so. This is where watching out for one’s enemies becomes important. It is what enables us to treat everyone else with the respect they deserve. And if we know who our enemies are and what they are doing, we can work to avoid the unpleasant consequences of their actions in our lives. This is especially true for those enemies who were at one time friends, as they know more of the things that could harm us either mentally or physically.
An example of this might be someone who because they believe a lie they have been told about you by someone who they “think” knows the truth then causes legal problems for you and your family. The betrayal alone would be enough to make them go from a friend to an enemy, but you would need to watch out for such a person because of the things they cause for you.
Watch out for your enemies to avoid them and their plans. These are words we should all live by so that we may also fulfill the Maxims about helping our friends.