In battles or wars one is engaged in –
One should plan to win –
But also be prepared to lose
Because the outcome is not always
Necessarily one’s to choose
07.08.95 – 07.09.95
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion
and published in Perspectives, ISBN 0-9686250-0-2.
Notes to this poem…
I am totally in support of positive thinking, which is why I believe you have to plan to win in every potentially confrontational act you might engage in. But even more than that, I believe in taking calculated risks and being accountable for your actions, which are the main reasons behind the writing of this poem. Taking calculated risks to me means you try to anticipate all the outcomes you can imagine in deciding to take that risk, and be able to “live with” all the outcomes. Unfortunately, it’s bad advice in the sense it is weak. We humans are not only horrendously poor at being able to “predict the future”, when we’re in the heat of being ready to take a risk, even if we were told to imagine various outcomes to make sure we can live with them, we wouldn’t do a very good job. Our emotions are overrunning our logic in many, if not most, of us in the course of this action. The only thing that might save us is to be able to do it well enough ahead of time so we are not close and pumped up to take the risk, kind of like severe premeditation in a murder case, although I’m not thinking it has to be anything as risky as murder or loss of life for outcomes.
As for this poem, I cranked up the scale to wars and battles for risks because others’ lives are at stake here. I’ve never taken a group of people into war, and hope never to have to do so, but I’m not so sure I feel confident I can say that many leaders think about this sort of thing with any emotions. I’m sure the good commanders do, with some caring about loss of life that differentiate them from other commanders who might without so much emotion, if any like some of the ruthless dictators running around. However, I’m not sure they still spend enough time and caring about the potential loss of life in engaging in one of these wars and battles, never mind losing them and potential consequences to follow. Of course, the higher the stake, the more confident you’d have to be to win and not dwell on potential loss in order to win. However, I think if someone had thought long and hard enough about some of the battles and wars which have taken place throughout history, and especially in the past 20 years or so with which I am more familiar in having lived through them, a lot of battles, wars and lives lost during and after them could have been avoided.
I will have to admit, though, that I am not afraid to lose life any more than any of these leaders who I blame for not caring about lives in deciding to go into battles and wars. I’d be quite the ruthless leader, in fact, but differentiated from some of the current ones in not initiating anything. But if I were in a position of power to exercise that might, I’d make sure you would know that if you provoked the dragon, you would be sure to pay the consequences as an act of “prevention” to further violence against my people. I’d make sure you’d know for each one of my people you kill, there’ll be 10 or more of yours, whether they’d be your troups or otherwise innocent fellow countrymen. Faulty logic it might be as I’d be doing the killing, but it’ll be blood on your hands. I’ll be sure you’ll think twice about killing any of my people cause you are basically provoking 10 deaths any time you go killing a troop or civilian with a roadside bomb or gunshot or whatever. Let’s not be disillusioned about who the might is with here and let’s not think there’s no consequence to your actions for you. And if you don’t care, maybe your people won’t care about you, either, and also turn on you, defeating your self-professed belief you are fighting for your people for their good.
Ironically, with all the terrorism going on, and murders in our own countries, other ruthless crimes and so on, diplomatically, at least, how “soft” we have become. Do you think the Romans or Genghis Khan or various other mighty empires throughout history would have put up with this terrorism crap for long if it had happened to them? They’d have marched your people out and slit their throats in front of you to warn you to stop. It’s brutal and inhumane, sure, but I’d bet you they’d probably save more lives in the long run.
Nobody ever said war and conquest was pretty. You just have to minimize its ugliness, and that, to me, is more about minimizing life lost than method to do so… and I am thinking of the consequences of taking that risk!
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.