5 Sworn Enemies Who Formed Inspiring Friendships
For most people, the story of how they met their best friend is rather boring -- around 90 percent of friendships in the world are probably determined by school bus seat placement. Frankly, "how I met my worst enemy" stories are way better ... and as we've demonstrated before, it's more interesting still when the two happen to be the same person. Proving that there's literally no aggression humans aren't capable of forgiving, here are five heartwarming friendships that were forged by overcoming things like torture, racism, and murder:
A POW Looks For His Torturer For 50 Years To Get Revenge ... And Befriends Him Instead
During World War II, British Army officer Eric Lomax became a prisoner of war in a place known as the "Death Railway," which sounds like the location for the next Mad Max movie, but was something even more insane: a railroad between Burma and Thailand that Japan built using the sweat and blood of thousands of POWs and civilians. The conditions were so shitty that approximately 83,000 people died building it. It was there that Lomax met a man who would eventually (very eventually) become a dear friend: Nagase Takashi, one of his torturers.
"I really wish we'd skipped the prolonged agony and started with hanging out, but whatever."
Just working in that hellhole already counted as a human rights violation, but Lomax was legit tortured, and for the dumbest of reasons. He pissed off Japanese authorities by MacGyvering a radio receiver out of scraps. Convinced that he was masterminding a POW uprising (or possibly starting a jazz club), officials spent a year trying to finesse a confession out of him. In the process, they broke Lomax's arms and hip, and forced water down his throat. There to help facilitate these enhanced interrogations was Nagase, an interpreter, who quickly rose to the top of Lomax's shit list due to his cruel psychological taunts.
After the war, a traumatized Lomax helped hunt down his torturers, but Nagase was the one that got away. Lomax spent the next five decades dreaming of revenge and looking through war records to locate his old nemesis, but to no avail. Then, in 1993, he finally found Nagase, arranged a meeting (according to Lomax's wife, with every intention to kill him), and then ... they got along rather well, actually. It turned out they had a lot in common.
"I'm gonna murd-- hey, we're shirt twins!"
When he reunited with Lomax on the same bridge they'd both helped to build (one more than the other), a deeply shaken Nagase unleashed a torrent of tears and apologies. And he meant it. After the war, Nagase was plagued by guilt and helped the allies find mass graves along the railroad. From then on, he devoted his life to charity. Lomax and Nagase found that they were both haunted by the horrors of the past in similar ways. They even had the same pastimes, like writing, collecting documentation, and having horrible PTSD-induced nightmares. Fun stuff.
Lomax and Nagase stayed good friends for the remaining 18 years of their lives, and their story inspired a film called The Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman (as Lomax and his wife, not Lomax and Nagase).
Although the resemblance is uncanny.
Grieving Parents Stalk, Then Mentor, The Drunk Driver Who Killed Their Son
Right before Christmas 1982, Tommy Pigage got behind the wheel of a car with his brain marinating in almost three times the legal limit of alcohol. Utterly blitzed, he careened into the vehicle of young Ted Morris, who died on Christmas Eve. Ted's parents, Frank and Elizabeth Morris, were obviously devastated, but their grief evolved into smoldering animosity when Pigage was sentenced to five years' probation instead of prison. That's a pretty light penalty for destroying this happy family:
The world lost a great mustache that day.
Oh wait, that's not the Morrises smiling next to their son -- that's them with their son's killer. Sorry. Our fact-checker's getting fired over this one.
Understandably, the Morrises' first impression of Pigage was less "let's invite him for dinner" and more "that guy should die." They yearned for his demise, but failing that, they settled for obsessively shadowing Pigage, hoping to witness some freedom-ending probation violation. As part of that probation, Pigage had to spend two nights a month behind bars, so Mrs. Morris made sure to stop by the jail on those evenings to make sure he didn't miss his appointment.
Although by this point, he was already a pro at making last call before the bars close.
Ironically, the Morrises' change of heart was made possible by the very probation which drove them to hate-stalk Pigage in the first place. Another term of his release required Pigage to recount his crime to high schoolers during those fun lectures organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. An extremely mad(d) Mrs. Morris attended his first talk, prepared to boo him -- but contrary to her expectations, Pigage didn't shirk responsibility for killing her child. He cast himself as a murderer who got a wrist-massage in lieu of punishment.
Pigage looked like "a whipped little puppy" in Morris's eyes, and she even reached out to him after his talk ... only to smell alcohol on his breath. Boom. Probation violated. Back to jail. The Morrises got what they wanted! The end.
To be fair, most people who have to stand in front of a classroom are wasted.
Only, no. The Morrises now felt bad for Pigage, and began visiting him in jail. Before long, they were securing the court's permission to borrow him for church and other non-jail activities. Mr. Morris, a UPS driver / preacher, even performed an impromptu baptism on him after a tearful apology. With their support, Pigage was able to get out on probation again, kick his addiction in the ass, and turn his life around. Meanwhile, the Morrises realized that helping him was also helping themselves, since actively hating someone every day isn't exactly the best way to mourn, regardless of what decades of revenge movies have taught us.
A Black Civil Rights Activist Bonds With The KKK Member Sent To Sabotage Her Work
In 1971, people in Durham, North Carolina weren't handling their newly racially-integrated schools too well (as in, there was violence). Black civil rights activist Ann Atwater was asked to chair a 10-day community meeting on the safe un-racisting of the city's education ... but something told her that not everyone at City Hall was on board with desegregation. That something was the fact that they appointed Ku Klux Klan Grand Exalted Cyclops and holy-balls-that's-a-real-title Claiborne P. Ellis as her co-chair, just to start some shit.
And shit was started. Ellis brought a machine gun to the first meeting. Atwater once angrily pulled a knife on him. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Note: This is not the usual outcome of bringing a knife to a gun fight.
So how did the social equivalent of mixing napalm and dynamite give us the historical precursor to "Ebony And Ivory"? Well, forcing two people to spend 12 hours a day together will usually make them hate each other's guts ... but since these two already did that before they even met, in this case, it had the opposite effect. The first breakthrough came when a gospel choir came in to sing, and Ellis started clapping to the wrong beat (he'd never been to a black church before, for some reason). Atwater grabbed his hands and "learned him how to clap."
In return, he taught her how to get bloodstains out of white sheets.
Also, it turned out that hearing firsthand how society was shafting blacks was an eye-opening experience for the Klansman. Ellis was there to "disrupt everything that everybody was trying to do," but he had the shocking realization that black people get a shitty deal. Withering hardship was the whole reason he joined the KKK in the first place, so he started to question the whole blind prejudice thing.
Eventually, the pair recognized that the animosity between them was ruining any chance they had of helping black or white children. Disheartened by their folly, they cried together and ultimately buried the hatchet. Ellis left the Klan and, over the following decades, repeatedly teamed up with his new BFF to fight social injustice in all its forms. At Ellis' funeral in 2005, Atwater sat on the side of the family. By then, she'd granted him a title much cooler than Grand Exalted Cyclops: "brother."
In the end, they learned us how to cry.
WARNING: We've had prisoners of war, drunk drivers, and the KKK in this article so far, but this is where it gets really heavy ...
A Man Ends Up Consoling His Childhood Kidnapper (And Would-Be Murderer) On His Deathbed
In 1974, 10-year-old Floridian Chris Carrier mysteriously disappeared. A man named David McAllister, formerly a nurse for Carrier's uncle, had kidnapped him after being fired. McAllister burned the boy with cigarettes, stabbed him multiple times with an ice pick, and shot him in the head before leaving him to die in the Everglades. Oh, and he got away with absolutely all of that.
OK, we're the ones writing this article and even we don't know how the hell this story could possibly turn around.
The most "heartwarming" thing that could happen now is this guy showing up.
Miraculously, the part-Rasputin kid survived -- the bullet left him blind in one eye, but caused no brain damage. The stab wounds were all superficial. Carrier was found six days later, chillin' on a rock. He later described the whole ordeal as "a walk in the park," and now we're officially more scared of him than the kidnapper.
As for McAllister, he knew he would eventually get caught (when the cops showed up at his house, he asked what took them so long), but then ... he wasn't. There was no evidence incriminating him. It wasn't until 1996, long after the statute of limitations expired, that he confessed to the abduction. And so, Carrier finally confronted his kidnapper and ... became his only friend in the world.
"Time to get what's coming to you, old man. Now shake my hand and meet my adorable daughter."
At that point, McAllister was 77 years old, blind, and languishing in a nursing home with no friends or family. No one would have protested if Carrier had spat in his face and laughed at his misery. But rather than opening up a can of cold vigilante justice, when McAllister apologized to his victim and got all weepy, Carrier told him "that from now on there would be nothing like anger or revenge between [them], nothing except a new friendship." If this guy had been Bruce Wayne, Gotham would have ended up with Welladjustedman.
He had to remind the nurses of his bad eye so they didn't think he was kidding.
And Carrier didn't stop there and scamper off with an awkward goodbye. He and his young daughter continued visiting McAllister to read him Bible passages, bring him smoked amberjack, and ensure he was being properly cared for in his final weeks.
See, we told you that was heavy. Now how are we gonna top this?
Rwandan Genocide Survivor Starts A Charity With The Man Who Chopped Off Her Hand And Killed Her Daughter
Aaaand that's how. What would it take for you to extend a hand in friendship to someone who not only chopped off your other hand, but also murdered your child in a genocidal rage? We'd understand if most people's notion of making peace included a loaded Peacemaker and a top-notch defense attorney. For Alice Mukarurinda, all it took was a fortnight of soul searching and the heart of a saint.
Forget beatification. That kind of forgiveness should at least qualify you as a minor deity.
Mukarurinda's attacker was a man named Emmanuel Ndayisaba, a onetime choirboy and former schoolmate who barely remembered her. When the Rwandan genocide began in 1994, Ndayisaba was one of the way-too-many who bought into the whole "these Rwandans deserve to live more than these other, nearly identical Rwandans" ideology. He was recruited as a Hutu hatchet man, tasked with wiping out as many Tutsis as he could. Tutsis like Mukarurinda. So on top of all the unspeakable horror, it was also history's most uncomfortable class reunion.
Think about that the next time you have to endure boring chit-chat with the kid who pooped himself in third grade.
Ndayisaba and his brothers in butchery descended on Mukarinda and other Tutsis with bloodthirsty abandon. When he came after her with a machete, Mukarinda held up her right hand to block the blade and was rewarded with a free amputation. Other Hutus joined in the attack and stabbed her with a spear, before leaving Mukarurinda for dead and her infant daughter among the victims.
In 1997, Ndayisaba had sobered up from his murder binge and turned himself in for killing over a dozen people. He was released six years later as part of a government program to pardon Hutus who acknowledged their crimes. But the dude didn't cut off the government's hand -- they're not the ones who had to pardon him, is our point. Ndayisaba knew that, so he went around apologizing to the families of his victims, figuring it was a bit late to apologize to the victims themselves. That's when he ran into the very much alive Mukarurinda.
"Hey, you look different not covered in blood and homicidal madness."
Ndayisaba eventually mustered up the courage to kneel before Mukarurinda and beg to be forgiven. The bereaved mother meditated on her decision for two weeks with the help of her husband, presumably weighing whether she should tell him to "eat a dick" or "eat all of the dicks." However, she ended up absolving her attacker, and over time, the two became not only friends, but partners. By the genocide's 20th anniversary, Mukarurinda and Ndayisaba were working side by side as treasurer and vice president of an organization that constructs houses for the survivors. It's only fitting that Ndayisaba became a helping hand in atonement for the one he took away.