Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Voices of Warfare

I sought out the maesters of war. I sought out the living and the dead. The dead live through their written word.

The first maester I needed to seek, was the one my ancestors had called upon so many years ago.

General Sun Tze wrote his text circa 100BC. He was dead. But even the dead remain alive in their writings. He wrote his war philosophy in the Great Work, Art of War. In Chinese, it's called The Soldier.

"General, I am a young solider from the House of Yi. My mother's lineage of Yi sought your advice centuries ago. Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, with your advice, in the late 16th Century never lost a battle at sea. He fared 23 naval battles. I seek the same wisdom he sought years ago. My cause is good." I show him my insignia from the House of Yi. It's the National Korean flower.

File:Imperial Seal of Korea.svg

The General just listens. The silence becomes awkward.

I plead my case. "General, I fight for good. The Kingdom of Los Angeles is corrupt. Their -"

The General interrupts me, "Soldier, tell me not about good or evil. All war is based on deception. Warfare is not about good or evil. I cannot help you if you seek moral advice."

I restate my case, "General, I seek you for what you know about the strategy of war."

"That, I can help you with. The Art of War is the lifeblood of the State."

He continues, "Where are you in your war, Young Soldier?"

I explain to him where I am at. He listens and nods. He speaks, "At this moment, you only need to know two principles: 1) Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move. 2) The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand."

"General, what does that really mean?"

"Young Soldier, if I gave you every answer, would I be a good teacher? Go now. That is all you need to know for now and nothing more. Come back. I am alive, when you seek my advice."

"General, what offering must I pay?"

"Nothing. The Art of War is truly priceless and has no cost when sought out. The wisdom is there for those who will work to find it. I give it to you now."

It is time to approach another Maester.

File:Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

I open up his book, "Maester Machiavelli, I summon your wisdom. Help me."

I imagine to plead my case of good and corruption before Maester Medici.

"You awaken me for this talk of good and evil. You're just an inexperienced, young scholar." He laughs at me. He mocks me!

"You wish to start a war. Have you not learned, Young Scholar, that all unarmed prophets die. Only armed, prophets survive. Where is your army? You have no one. Before all else, be armed."

"Maester Medici, that is not true. I am armed with the knowledge of law. Behind me is the resources of the scholars of law."

He says nothing. He thinks. He listens. He asks, "What do you need from me?"

"Maester Medici, I fight the King of a place called Los Angeles. The King and all his men will crush me if I do not have your counsel. " I proceed to tell him about my resources and strategy. He listens. He knows how to listen.

He answers, "There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to institute the new order of things."

Now, I listen. He continues, "Because your resources are limited, remember Lady Fortune can equalize the battle. You must capture Lady Fortune. You must tie her, beat her, abuse her. You must let her know that she cannot get away from you. If she escapes your grasp, she will turn against you and destroy you. Fortune is a fickle lady, who goes here and there as she pleases. She lusts for different men with a change of tides and with a change of desire. Signor, capture her, use her, and never let her go. By dominating her, you can wield her power of misfortune against the King and all of his men."

I listen a bit horrified as the Maester seems -so - so, evil. Machiavelli, however, was considered the amoral political philosopher. Why is he telling me this?!

I also find it ironic that Maester Medici recognizes that the lady fortune may be lacking physical prowess over men; however, she has a mysterious power to destroy all those who stand aginst her. "Master Medici, how do I capture Lady Fortune?"

"Signor, Lady Fortune is like a river. When you build levies, dams, and flood controls, you can control the river, even when it floods in wildness. It then will not destroy your Kingdom. However, if you take action after the river floods, Lady Fortune destroys your Kingdom. She is impossible to control. She will make you pay for your stupidity, for there was a time that the cost was so small to control her. So many enemies have fallen slain because they have neglected to control Fortune at the right time. For you, control everything that can go wrong before the battle starts."

"Graci, Maester Medici."

"See me again, Signor. You keep me alive, when you read my works and practice the principles."

I see my primary Maester. She is in the War Room. She is the only person I see today that is alive, and not dead. Her words are spoken, not written.

She criticizes me for some communication mistakes I had made with stakeholders.

"Paul, to do such, does not show confidence. You always want to appear confident and poised. To appear to aggressive shows insecurity." the Torts Master says.

I listen. I understand.

She stands in a tai chi position. "See my position. It is not threatening. It is not weak. This is where you need to be." It reminded me of my own stance in judo fighting. In judo, I fight with my right rib facing the opponent. Therefore, there is less surface space for them to strike. Contrast this, to a fighter who fights chest to chest.

I sigh. I had messed it up again with being too aggressive in my communication. I know I can be like this. I need to learn better. I learned this in New Zealand. Why do I go back to my old ways? I said, "Yeah, this is what you don't learn in law school."

She replied, "That's right. You almost never learn this kind of strategy in law school."

I then said, "I'll get another chance. I'll do it better next time."

She says, "What you need to do now is send me a summary of all the weaknesses of your legal arguments. Also, tell me what you think the City of Los Angeles' greatest counter will be. That way, we'll see how well you are sizing up the opponent. We will see how smart the opponent is as well."

I bow. I leave.

I need my messenger.

That day, I approach my envoy. He's a Frenchman. Only in Los Angeles, would a Korean American have a French envoy deliver a message to a Mexican American King. I need this message delivered to the King and all his men. I seal each message with my insignia. "Go, now. God be with you."

I then walk up to the library tower. It's my war room. A Professor, waging a War against Arizona asked me to write a brief for the Court. Surrounded around me is my arsenal of facts, cases, books, and law. However, as I write, I keep getting distracted.

Will my French envoy be alright? I walk to the East Face of the tower window. I can see the King's Seat of Los Angeles in the distance. He is somewhere in the labyrinth of the King's seat. Is he lost? Will they trap him? Will they trick him?

I pace around the library tower. I'm pacing, pacing, pacing. He hasn't called me. I try to work on my brief. I look out of the East Window again. He's there somewhere. I can only control what I can do. I work on my brief again.

My French envoy comes back alive. Mission accomplished. He wasn't harmed. Good. He informs me that he was tricked and ensnared by the King and his evil men at one point. However, with his own wit, he managed to escape. I smile. I'm relieved. I'm excited. It's all so much for the human spirit to experience.

I go and look out the east window again of my library tower. I see the Los Angeles skyline against the backdrop of a pink, smoggy, artificial sunset. I think: Who am I to take on the King and all his men?

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