The greatest conqueror is he who overcomes the enemy without a blow. – Chinese Proverb
Also: The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu
And: To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. – Sun Tzu
What does that mean?
To me, it says Hollywood has it wrong. In the movies, the victory tends to go to the guys with the most firepower, the biggest explosions and the highest body count. That may be winning, but it’s the toughest path to victory. Alexander the Great won many battles, but so did the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. To win without fighting isn’t easy, but it is easier (and a bit more ethical) than killing everyone who doesn’t agree with you.
Victory without fighting requires you to change the heart and mind of the others, to win them over with your actions, your spirit and your words. Again, that’s not always the easiest path, but would taking on the world using just grenades and guns be any easier? I would argue it would not, and that’s before we get into the ethics of killing and the legalities and practicality thereof.
Instead of killing them literally, kill them with kindness and compassion, smother their objections with logic and wisdom, win without the fight by winning their hearts and minds.
Why is kindness important?
If you are not kind, how can you expect to influence someone, to win them to your point of view? Kindness is the foundation of friendship, and if you are to win without violence, you must make friends (even if only grudgingly so) of them. Or at least of enough people to move public opinion in your direction. That was the method of both Mohandas Gandhi & Martin Luther King Jr.
No where near all of their opponents agreed with them, not even all of their own people agreed with them. There were, however, enough people in the middle, the people who could be swayed, to tip the balance in their favor. Both of these greats were kind and compassionate people, on a large scale. Any person can have a person or group with which they are very unfriendly, but on the larger scale, they were kind, and kindness was the foundation of their legacies.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Unless you are going to free a people or a country, you’re probably going to have to start small and work your way up from there.
Recently, Matt Damon was on late night TV and told a story of his loosing his temper at the grocery store across the street from his apartment and saying that he would never return. My advice to Matt would be to choose the path of kindness and return to the store and apologise. Yes, he will have to swallow his pride. Yes, he will loose some face, but then, he just told the story to however many millions of people watched the show. His anger got him nowhere, perhaps some kindness will. At least he won’t have to walk so far to get his groceries, that’s a step in the right direction.
How many people do you know who are not presently all that friendly with you? Just jot down a few first names. For each, briefly identify the obstacle that impedes your rejoining in friendship. Using the example of Matt, pride is what I would list, not anger or temper – those happened in the past, the obstacle in the path to rejoining the relationship is Matt’s pride (based on what he said on the show).
Now examine the list of obstacles. How many relate to things that the other person has to do? Unless you have powers beyond my understanding, you probably cannot make the other person do these things. You can only make yourself do things. Revisit the list and change or revise the obstacles that required the other person to do something to start with you doing something. They may still need to hold up their end, but you might be able to influence them by starting with an apology. Even (or especially) if it wasn’t really your fault, but was theirs.
With this list, consider which person you will contact first, and how you will approach them. How do you broach the subject, how do you get to the point where you can attempt to remove the obstacle and reclaim your friendship? How do you get close enough? I would suggest kindness (you should have seen that coming).
Guys, you don’t have to get a bunch of flowers, even one can be enough to break the ice, to turn her from confrontation to something a bit more approachable. The details will have to be left as an exercise for the reader, as we’re talking interpersonal relationships here. Very detailed, very messy.
This technique can also be used to help smooth out a strained friendship, so don’t wait until things are really messed up, start early!
OK, now you have a plan to start down the path of kindness with one (and hopefully a few more) one-time friends. How do you move beyond your circle of friends? Kindness knows few boundaries, so take advantage of that. Brighten someone’s day by doing something nice.
If it’s raining, offer them some shelter under your umbrella, or allow them to move up under some shelter, even if it means you’ll wait a little longer in the rain. Open doors, or hold them open for others. You would be surprised how well people respond to this small kindness. I do it all the time, and better than 80% of the time I get a thank-you from the people. And kindness goes both ways, be sure to say thanks anytime someone does a kindness for you.
In your life, where do you go where there are other people on a regular basis? Stores, malls, businesses, bus stops, train stations, parking lots, roads. Where can you show kindness? Let the guy in (especially if the turn signal is on), it won’t make you that much later than you already are, right? Write down a couple places where you could show some kindness to someone else.
Make sure you smile as much as possible, for sometimes a smile can be the greatest kindness you can give.
From: Twitter, @DavidRoads
confirmed at: http://en.proverbia.net/citastema.asp?tematica=1271
Photo by RecycledStarDust