02 September 2015

When the enemy expands, consider inflation

This is the forty fourth 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.

This is how it is in battle — there are victories but most of them go the other way, especially if you are a rebel and fighting heavy odds.  Most times are times for eating humble pie.  Most times there is a lot of biting the dust.  Seldom is there happy news from the frontline.  

And yet, even in this long journey where landmarks are less of victories scored than defeats forced to be endured, there are degrees of demoralization.  Some defeats are extra heavy.  Some setbacks are harder to endure.  Some hurts exhaust more than others.  

This is how it is in battle — when you are down, you are kicked.  When you are being kicked, you are also getting insulted. And if you open mouth to spit out a curse, you get your teeth kicked in.  

So what does a rebel do when forced to endure defeat after defeat after defeat, when resolve is challenged by knife after knife after knife?  

There’s a thing about winners.  It is lovely if they are endowed with that rare quality called graze but typically they are not. Instead they are won’t to put out chest, crow about their victory and belittle the loser.  That’s politics and you see it everywhere.  

When the enemy wins, the enemy grows large — yes, victories are excellent food for the ego.  History is full of examples where victor is so full of him/herself that unlimited expansion seems possible.  They just grow and grow.  Now if your fight is just, then it implies that the enemy is unjust; if you are right, then the enemy is wrong.  Wrongdoers are not necessarily stupid, it’s just that their brains work overtime to achieve ends that are not necessarily wholesome.  However, the unjust, typically pursue self interest more intensely than they try to achieve something for the collective.  That’s the weakness.  

It’s like the opening of a balloon.  Find it and you can pump in all the air you want.  The balloon loves air.  Air is what gives it shape or rather the desired shape.  

If the enemy wants to brag, let him/her brag to heart’s content.  Give him/her all the time needed to say all that there’s to say and much more besides.  The more talk there is, the more words and the greater the possibility of saying the wrong thing.  Words uttered carelessly (and the loquacious tend to err, remember) are like arrowheads.  You pick them up but you don’t have to use them then and there.  The enemy will provide you with a lot of weapons in the euphoria of victory. Collect them.  

 In other words you have the option of feeding the enemy’s ego, the option of filling his/her balloon.  You don’t have to make too much noise about it.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  A little bit now, a little bit later and by and by the enemy expands to the point beyond which expansion is not possible.  The enemy bursts.

Other articles in this series