Thursday, July 6, 2006

How Diplomacy Died

When you read a blog regularly, you get a feeling for who the person is that writes the thing. Intimate personal detail is usually superfluous and distracting to the other material that is more truly revealing of the person behind it. I can tell that the fellow who writes The Poor Man is a funny and imaginative guy who sees easily past appearances; that the authoress of Tavern Wench is an intelligent and gifted lady with an inner sense for the hidden story in the plod of daily living; that the man behind The Drudge Report is a somewhat self-centered sensationalist with what I hope is a stark sense of humor.

I'm a fellow who is on the brink of old, has piled up some miles on the odometer, and learned something from harsh experience. For instance, and especially since my divorce some six years ago, I've learned that there are certain conflicts or arguments you just do not enter. These are often confrontations that have been constructed outside one's sphere of influence, and therefore are pre-determined to defeat, and even to humiliate you. So I'm often mistaken for a guy who retreats from a struggle out of cowardice, when in fact I follow the advice of that military strategist Sun Tzu, and the other Tzu, whose poems I have translated, Lao:

The generals have a saying
Which they apply to war,
And I teach it too:

Better to be aggression's guest,
Than its partisan host.
Better to draw back a mile
Than press forward an inch.

This is called marching
Without moving your feet;
Capturing without an assault;
Defeating without an enemy.

For there is no greater error
Than looking outward for enemies.
To look outward for enemies
Is to estrange your only true self.

This is why two sides opposed
Will fight to a bloody draw,
Where sorrow is the only victor.

Watching the geopolitical scene through the eyes of a regular blogger has also helped me in this respect. I have seen conflicts become so ramped up by the rhetoric of hatred that war is a fait accompli, long before the first bomb is dropped or the first coffin brought home. Clearly, the much-ignored Downing Street Memo has taught us that, and much else besides, if our media would only start paying attention to what is directly before them.

So there are times, believe it or not, when you have to bear an assault without returning a single blow. Maybe this is what the guy from Nazareth meant about turning the other cheek: he didn't mean turn yourself into a masochistic poster boy for victimization disorder. I am betting he simply wanted to remind us of exactly what Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu taught: you can't always have an eye for an eye. In fact, you would rarely want one.

Unfortunately, we live under the iron rule of a police-state government that turns a blind eye to these teachings, even as they profess to adore the one who transmitted them. I don't mean to imply that this is an easy lesson to adapt to one's life; it is not. In this culture, the hero is the one who lashes out at the mildest provocation; the one who returns from the fight with his shield, or on it.

Life has taught me differently. It has taught me that the impulse to fight is far over-rated in this culture of ours, even to the point where it is perhaps the most abused word in political campaign slogans—and that goes for both the left and the right equally. Everyone, it seems, is a fighter, and therein may lie much of the trouble we have in this declining nation of ours. We are always in opposition to something; always drunk with battle.

So it seems that if we wish to see real transformation in our society, we need to clearly perceive—as citizens, as professionals, as family members, and as individuals—the difference between a pragmatist and a peacenik; a diplomat and a doormat; a man and a martyr.


Links of the Day: Greg Mitchell once again speaks for many of us; and so does John Murtha. And our circle-of-bullshit award goes to the Justice Dept., which says you can't find out who broke the law re. national security because that would compromise national security. Tomorrow on Daily Rev, we'll have more to say on the topic of justice.

1 comment:

exoplanet said...

Downing Street memo story broken by Mick Smith of ST:

Check his links. [we had to pay him a lot of cash]