Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The Philosophy of Retreat
Face it. We are going to have to retreat from Iraq sooner or later. The question then becomes: How many more must die before we achieve this final aim? But alas, that is so cliche. I mean, America has plenty of killing machines already, maybe it would be best if we allow the killing machines we have created, using the clay of American sons and daughters, to remain outsides the gates of America as long as possible. It's not as if we have a dearth of killing machines, or have tons of jobs to keep them occupied once they do get back. Maybe their occupation was foreordained by God to be the occupation of Iraq? On this, Science is surely mute.
But let's just say that we are ready to have our soldiers reintroduced into America. What if they start talking? What if the stories they tell do not square with the wishes of the White House? Might not this be a risk too grave to take?
Over there, you can control the breadth of their utterances.
But again, let's just say. So what is the justification for retreat? Is retreat not weakness?
According to ancient Chinese philosophy, retreat is actually strength...something with which America is obsessed, being the barrel-chested and expansive Rambo of nations. Gump on a pump. Fake giant among real pygmies. Strength good. Gimme gimme.
Of course strength is neither good nor bad, only one phase in a continuum of change -- which is why bodybuilders die young -- so don't get too excited about the prospect of acquiring it via this written tome. What is even more important is that you will also gain in weakness -- an under-appreciated virtue.
In my next catechism, I will expand on what it means to retreat,
and the best way to go about it. But in the meantime, if you are looking to retreat, why not think sideways and find yourself a good vineyard or two,
like Uwharrie Vineyards, in the ancient mountains of North Carolina. There you can sip on some good wines and ponder the philosophy of retreat. Or maybe you'd rather just live it. Either way, put this vineyard in your future plans. If you don't I will be forced to kill you.
FROM THE I CHING (BOOK OF CHANGES)
33 Tun: Retreat
The power of the dark is ascending. The light retreats to security, so that the dark cannot encroach on it. This retreat is a matter not of man's will but of natural law. Therefore in this case withdrawal is proper; it is the correct way to behave in order not to exhaust one's forces.
Conditions are such that the hostile forces favoured by the time are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength. We must be careful not to miss the right moment while we are in full possession of power and position. Then we shall be able to interpret the signs of the time before it is too late and to prepare for provisional retreat instead of being drawn into a desperate life-and-death struggle. Thus we do not simple abandon the field to the opponent; we make it difficult for him to advance by showing perseverance in single acts of resistance. In this way we prepare, while retreating, for the counter- movement. Understanding the laws of a constructive retreat of this sort is not easy. The meaning that lies hidden in such a time is important.
The mountain rises up under heaven, but owing to its nature it finally comes to a stop. Heaven on the other hand retreats upward before it into the distance and remains out of reach. This symbolises the behaviour of the superior man toward a climbing inferior; he retreats into his own thoughts as the inferior man comes forward. He does not hate him, for hatred is a form of subjective involvement by which we are bound to the hated object. The superior man shows strength (heaven) in that he brings the inferior man to a standstill (mountain) by his dignified reserve.
Nine at the top means: (optimal path of change)
Cheerful retreat. Everything serves to further.
The situation is unequivocal. Inner detachment has become an established fact, and we are at liberty to depart. When one sees the way ahead thus clearly, free of all doubt, a cheerful mood sets in, and one chooses what is right without further thought. Such a clear path ahead always leads to the good.
-anonyMoses Hyperlincoln is your blogging helpmate. Trust him with your fortune.