Conception of a Wise General

           “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

         You’re vulnerable outside, but inside the cyber world, you’re infinite. Tense. The time is running out. You seemed surrounded. You don’t know what to anticipate. You’re thinking of a strategy. Do you need to attack on the rear? Or wait for further movements? Then suddenly, blast! Game Over.

            That’s a typical dilemma of a gamer. Whether you’re playing the ever-famous Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), Counter Strike, or even Plants vs. Zombies, these all just spell STRATEGY, and VICTORY. Personally, I’m not a gamer-type. But, I’m a student, a comrade, a daughter, a sister. And just like a typical gamer, I also experience the same dilemma that s/he’s in—strategy and victory. Life is but a battle. It may not be as bloody as the Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention of 1917 to 1922, but then, competing with other parties, or even with yourself, is always present.

         An argument with a classmate, a misunderstanding with a lover, an opinion overthrown in a business meeting, or just simply picking your clothes of the day or your hairdo of the season—all are examples of battles. Typical, but still a warfare.

            “The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected.”

            I believe that if we would find the time to read this work of a genius, then somehow, we could be victors of our own conflicts. The classic literature The Art of War by Sun Tzu (translated to English and edited by James Clavell), even written a thousand years ago, is still applicable for today’s situation.

            Just this December, I was fortunate to receive this special gift from my uncle (thanks to you, I would always be grateful). He asked me to drop by to their house, if I had the time, to get my present—something that “I would not regret.” Out of curiosity, I went to my uncle’s residence and ended up having this book—The Art of War. Well, it’s familiar. I’ve encountered this book (but have not read it) in some literatures, with the knowledge that this is for war leaders and politicians.

            I’m not going to spoil the content but let me give you the thirteen chapters, namely Laying Plans, On waging war, The sheathed sword, Tactics, Energy, Weak points and strong, Maneuvering, Variation of tactics, The army on the march, Terrain, The nine situations, Attack by fire, and The use of spies. These are, according to Sun Tzu, the art of war. Scholars, great and small, were astounded by such a vision. Clavell said in the foreword of his edited version that Napoleon the Great made this book as his guidelines in conquering Europe. Many generals from around the world who followed Sun Tzu’s principles were said to have enjoyed the sweet taste of victory.

            I was inspired by this book because first, it is an Asian literature. And personally, I admire Asian writings because I am fascinated on how they play on words—using the relationships on the elements of nature and various phenomena. Plus, it is classic, written thousand years ago. It’s an important aspect of the past, and is still vital in the present and future. That is why I feel privileged to hold this piece of history in my hands.

            Another is that it is detailed, which made it very helpful to generals, aspiring leaders, and to ordinary people. It is context-based, giving definite examples and concrete tactics on how to outwit the adversary. Well, of course, the examples are all in military settings, which made me like it even more. This book is challenging, in a sense that you think of the ways on how to apply these tactics in real-life situations.

         “The general is the bulwark (wall) of the state: if the bulwark is strong at all points, the state will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the state will be weak.”

         Sun Tzu began his book by saying that its content is vital to the state. I think that what he said is undoubtedly true. The leader is the inspiration of its subjects and the foundation of the nation. If the leader is weak, then expect to fail a war. Subjects are important, but leaders are also important. Some could argue the nation depends on the people in it. But then, at the end of the day, it is still the ‘say’ of the leader. As in a race, leaders are the forerunners, where his/her subjects should emulate.

            As I read the book, it made me realize that this is applicable for all of us. Besides, as what William Earnest Henley’s Invictus put it, we are the “master of our fate,” “the captain of our soul.” Throughout our existence, we are actually being molded to be chieftains of our own lives—from the upbringing of our parents, the education we have, and the trainings in our chosen fields. We are but generals of our own army—in-charge of our decisions and actions.

            The Art of War is really an inspiring book. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m not a war-freak person. I just believe that somehow, Sun Tzu’s principles could be of great help in our survival in our daily lives. Besides, it’s been year. 2012 have passed. Start your 2013 with a bang! Maybe you could browse this book and see if it could help. In our seemingly peaceful lives, conflicts are everywhere. But keep in mind, for as Sun Tzu had put it, “in peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace.”


Answer to last time’s PUZZLE:

If you’re wondering about why did the surgeon refused to do the operation to the child if the father aready died in the train accident. Of course, the surgeon is a woman. She’s the child’s mother. 🙂


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