31 May 2016

Revolution is a game, really!

When I was working at 'The Nation' I wrote a column for the FREE section of the paper which was dedicated to youth.  The title of the column was 'Notes for a Rebel'.  I wrote a total of 52 articles in this series.  With this, I resume my 'Notes for a Rebel', this time writing for the website www.nightowls.lk.  Scroll down for the other articles in this series on rebels and rebellion. 

Oh sure, ‘games’ are not about wounds and blood, teargas and water-cannons, arrest and incarceration, torture and execution.  I am not trying to trivialize revolution, revolutionary intent and revolutionaries.  There’s noble intention, the readiness to sacrifice and even sacrifice, determination, courage and resilience, I do grant.  And yet, I insist, it’s still a game. 

There’s you (and comrades of course) and there’s the opposition (the enemy, if you will).  There’ll be THE Enemy and there’ll be lesser enemies; there’ll be comrades and there’ll be friends.  Broadly, though, it’s just two parties, two sides: us and them.  There will be battles which are won or lost whose outcomes may or may not decide the ultimate victor.  There is always territory won and lost, literally and metaphorically.

You have to think on your feet, deceive your opposite number with blind-side moves or a dummy, make sure you don’t err and lose ground, work with your comrades, recognize specific strengths and feed them, pull yourself and your fellow rebels up when you fall, fight back when pushed to the brink and always, always look to the end, regardless of the bruises, the head-butts, the tackles, injuries, arbiters that are almost adjuncts of the opposition, rules that rebel against you and other odds, natural and otherwise. 

Wait, are we talking rugby here?

You should know of attack and defense, how to coordinate your forces, how to identify and attack weaknesses even as you identify and defend yours, how to play to strengths, how to maneuver behind enemy lines.  You would understand the importance of time, space and material assets, the value of initiative, when to play safe and when to be bold and a sense of risks, their magnitudes and the worth of taking them. 

Wait, are we talking chess here?

There is a time to be cautious and there are times when you put caution to the winds.  You have to take stock of the situation, the ground conditions, the weather etc., and watch for the right opportunity to tear the enemy attack to pieces. At times you take things slow and at times you accelerate, depending on a number of factors including the capacities of your forces.  At times you just contain the enemy and sometimes you draw the enemy out of the relevant comfort zone with a few dollies tossed at them.  It’s about enticing and forcing an error. 

Wait, are we talking cricket here?

As the song by Kenny Rogers goes, you can read the enemy’s cards the way he or she holds his or her eyes.  You have to know when to hold your cards and when to fold them too.  You must know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count you money before the dealing’s done.  You must know that every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser too, and that it’s all about playing your cards judiciously.

Wait, are we talking poker here?

Well, we are talking of rugby, chess, cricket and poker.  And we could talk of other sports too.  It’s all a game and it’s all about revolution as well.  There are many books to learn from.  And we also learn from people.  We should not forget that games have lessons that are eminently applicable in any form of battle.  One thing though: you have to play the game to know its many nuances, to be able to read the run of play accurately and to deploy all your forces in the most efficient manner to secure victory. 

Revolution.  It’s a game.  Really.  

Other articles in this series

The sun will never set
When the enemy expands consider inflation
When you are the last one standing
Targets visible and targets unidentified
When you have to vote
So when are you planning to graduate?
The belly of the beast is addictive
When you meet pomposity, flip the script
When did you last speak with an old man?
Dear Rebel, please keep it short
Get ready for those setbacks
The rebel must calculate or perish
Are you ready to deceive?
Dear Rebel, 'P' is also for 'Proportion' 
Dear Rebel, have you got the e-factor out of the way?
Have you carefully considered the f-word?
It is so easy to name the enemy, right?
The p-word cuts both ways
Cards get reflected in eyes, did you know?
It's all about timing 
Heroes and heroism are great, but...
Recruiting for a rebellion
The R, L and H of 'Rebellion'
Pack in 'Humor' when you gather rebellion-essentials
When the enemy is your best friend
The MSM Principle of Engagement
Dear Rebel, get some creature-tips!
Dear Rebel, get through your universities first
Read the enemies' Bibles
Poetry, love and revolution
Are you ready to shut down your petrol shed
The details, the details!
Know your comrades
Good to meditate on impermanence.
Time is long, really long
Learn from the termites 
Be warned: the first victory is also the first defeat
Prediction is asking for trouble
Visualize, strategize and innovate
How important is authority?
Don't forget to say 'Hello!'
It's not over until you clean up!
Have you met 'PB' of Alutwela?
Are you sure about those selfies?
Power and principles
'Few does not mean 'weak'