As part of one of my upcoming non-fiction books (Waking Up), I'm working on a piece called "Gentle Strength." A portion of the piece offers a perspective that is rarely considered in our culture.
To paraphrase, let's say you're the ruler of a country called "Home" and an opposing faction is threatening your country through war and violence. Negotiations and mediation have failed. Even offering the enemy certain concessions has failed to still their hunger for war.
What do you do, knowing that attack is imminent?
Gentle strength has you remove all those who are unable or unwilling to fight so that they are somewhere safe - a protected refuge or a friendly neighboring country. Your culture, your very "Home-ness" is your people. By making your people your first priority, you will protect Home against any and all enemies regardless of what the days ahead may bring. Those who wish to stay, you teach how to survive, you instill philosophies and concepts in them that keep the heart of your culture alive and strong in the face of adversity.
When the enemy appears at your border, you surrender without firing a shot.
If the enemy plunders your country, you know that material wealth can be replaced. If they raze your cities, you know your cities can be rebuilt. If they burn your lands, you will replant. What is irreplaceable is each and every soul that has been entrusted to your care. That’s what you protect.
To fight, to raise weapons and kill your enemy, you BECOME your enemy. You leave your own culture behind and adopt their culture of warfare and violence instead. Your citizenry that is still occupying your land is prepared to fight YOUR fight - a war of ideas, of beliefs, of strength in the face of adversity. Each person who has stayed behind, by doing so, has already demonstrated a willingness and ability to sacrifice more than the enemy will ever be willing to lose. They are willing to pull a trigger in an instant, intending to fight a battle and then be crowned as champions; you are willing to hold your cultural ground forever, no matter the cost. They are not prepared to win the conflict that you present to them. You literally cannot be defeated.
Losing a military conflict is not the end of the war. Both Japan and Germany were soundly defeated in World War II and quickly rebuilt their countries and economy. After a country is conquered it must then be governed. Having already prepared the citizenry, removed the powerless to safety and left an unshakeable culture in its place that continually renews its core beliefs as their source of strength, your citizenry will never be swayed to a new political system or the beliefs of the occupying army. What's more is that those who have retreated to safety have carried your beliefs with them, further spreading the core beliefs of your culture. As your culture is understood and embraced, outside pressure and assistance begins to mount, providing you with additional allies and resources.
Civil disobedience, work slowdowns, and sabotage will make your country ungovernable by an outside force. No country is able to support a protracted war or finance the cost of governing a citizenry continually engaging in civil disobedience. Eventually, the occupying force will either allow your people self-rule or will withdraw their armies as their own economy is destroyed by the cost of the war.
As the last tank rolls away, your culture intact, you never surrendered your position. The enemy brought their cultural perspective, was forced through the process of conqueror evolving to governor to adopt yours, and was still forced to retreat.
Who truly won the war?
That is gentle strength.
Much of this portion of the book will focus, not on military conflict, but on how to apply these concepts in our own lives. It’s not a matter of “fight or don’t fight” but choosing the conflict which we will engage in and simply refusing to fight on the enemy's terms. If we won’t fight them on their ground, they are forced to fight us on our own. Having lost this and countless other perspectives, there is a tremendous amount of personal strength that we have surrendered unknowingly and depths to our existence which we have never dared to imagine. Waking Up will offer us those pieces once more.