The War Within

Studying Sun Tzu’s Art of War, I noticed in his thoughts on planning ahead, how those principles can be used in a variety of situations. They work in war, battle, day-to-day, and debate. He lists Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, the Commander and Method and Discipline.
This can be taken as, who is right, environmental conditions, terrain, leadership, technique and the training and foundation needed to implement said techniques and strategies, at least in a fight, on a macro( war ) or micro( fight ) level. Let’s take this Art of War into the arena of ideas.

Cover of "Art of War"
Cover of Art of War

What is Moral Law? Law’s foundations are cultural, so look at it on a personal level. What do you believe; your opinions? Have them well thought out before you engage in intellectual battle, because any weaknesses will become apparent. This to a wise wolf isn’t a bad thing, because we learn from it.

Environmental conditions, time of day, weather, seasons. On a personal level, well-rested, how you are feeling at the moment, current situation etc. Some are morning people, some are night owls. I know from mid-afternoon to dark, I’m usually drowsy. I’m at my best in the morning and early evening. When you’re tired, thinking on your feet is slowed down a bit. Or any feeling of whom you’re facing and your confidence levels. It works for and can work against you.

Terrain. Familiar, unfamiliar. Have you thought out the other guy’s perspective also, or do you have tunnel vision? Are you in a setting that is comfortable to you? Some thrive in chaos, some look far enough ahead where they function in it, and others are just swept away and defeated. Some like tranquility, like when I’m sitting on the side of a mountain or walking through a valley. This is where my mind works best, and where others can be uncomfortable. Some like crowds and work well within them; some don’t, preferring one-on-one.

The Commander, leadership, what directs your life. So, what does direct your life? Your principles, your personal code. Honor and Integrity or Lies and Deceit. Controlled, well-thought out ideas, with facts as a foundation as opposed to being argumentative with lies and insults. The former is actually very rare in the public arena as evidenced in speeches and debates on TV. Instead of a respect for the other’s personal views, instead you find them tearing each other down. This is not how you persuade others, by talking to them like they’re the scum of the earth.

Method and Discipline. Your strategy, and how you plan to get there to use it and deal the coup de grace. Do you have the experience and wisdom of how to use it? Have you prepared for any contingency, a counter-point that is unexpected? Is your mind a dull butter knife or a razor-sharp katana in the arena of ideas?

Taking all of these under consideration is how you can prevail in a battle of minds, and the only way it works is critical thought, honest introspection, and the courage to face whatever the answer may be that you face. Which is probably why they’re so few leaders of men and wolves, and instead so many shepherds and sheep. Life itself requires a strategy, accounting for all conditions, failings and strengths. And that is the realm that the Wolves dwell, and prosper. Care to join us?

©Vance Gatlin II 2011

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