17 April 2015

Be warned: the first victory is also the first defeat, be warned

Each defeat teaches you at least one thing you should not do.  The enemy too learns from defeat. 

This is the twenty seventh in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

It is very rarely that the first foray of any rebellious group ends up in a decisive victory, i.e. one which succeeds in completely overturning a given political order, be it a Government, a school board or a maranaadhaara samithiya.  Typically, rebels have to suffer several setbacks before scoring some minor victory and even then the gains have to be forfeited not long afterwards, typically. 

Naturally, the first time you best your opponent or make some tangible gains, there’s euphoria.  It empowers to know that you can take on an enemy and not come off second best all the time.  If the enemy can be routed in one instance then the enemy can be routed again, you tell yourself. 

Most importantly you realize that you have put the lessons you’ve picked up from those earlier setbacks to good use.  This is why the first victory is also the first defeat. 

The moment the enemy suffers hurt, the enemy looks at you with different eyes.  From that moment onwards the enemy will stop underestimating you.  Even if there’s hurt, there will be respect.  It might be yielded grudgingly, but you will nevertheless be treated with respect.  Just as you learnt from your first mistakes the enemy will start asking questions.  Such as the following:

What went wrong?  What was my error?  What did I overlook?  What were the factors I didn’t take into account?  Did I underestimate my enemy?  Do I know my enemy?  How can I stop this from happening again?  How can I remove this threat from the overall equation?

It is best for the rebel to assume that the enemy is not a moron. It is best to assume that the enemy will not make the same mistake twice, will be better prepared the next time and worse will come back in full force to make sure there’s no further embarrassment or loss of ground. 

Victory makes us bolder, more confident.  Our victories make our enemies more cautious, less negligent.  This is why, typically, things begin to get harder after you score your first victory in the longer battle.  You punch and you would be a fool not to expect a punch in return; all the more reason to be extra wary.

The  first victory is sweet.  Savor it.  Every rebel does it. The smarter ones don’t dwell too long on the hurrahs though.  More often than not they can’t afford to celebrate.  If you were unknown before and are known now, it is a ‘negative’, a ‘setback’.  A defeat.  If the enemy was complacent before and is alert now, it’s a negative, a setback.  A defeat. 

No reason to be alarmed.  No reason to be dismayed.  Every reason to exercise ever greater vigilance, though. 

 Other articles in this series
Know your comrades
Good to meditate on impermanence.
Time is long, really long

Learn from the termites


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Typo in descriptor of the photo?

Malinda Seneviratne said...

yes. thanks. corrected.