Friday, April 04, 2014

The Three Generals

There was going to be war.  The king had to choose a commander from his three generals to lead his army.

The first general was the queen's sister's son.  He had grown with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, had never spent a day outside the palace, and only engaged in training only with carefully selected pansy soldiers.  His idea to inspire the army was to whimper about how much his family had "given" to the nation by ruling it for so long.  He was somewhat handsome though, and women liked him for the adult baby that he was.  The ministers liked him because they felt they could influence him.  Many in the city were of the opinion that to be effective, the commander needed to be a blue-blooded person who had leadership in his genes.  This general had never made a mistake, because he had never truly made a decision.  The army too was somewhat mystified by his charisma, as long as he kept his mouth shut.

The second general was a clever infantryman who had risen from the ranks to become a general over many decades of careful image-making, politicking and manipulation.  His role in a particular army assault against a rebel city within the country was suspect, but his culpability was never proved.  Many felt that the circumstantial evidence was strong against him, and he was known to exaggerate the achievements of his regiment.  His regiment was indeed quite happy with him, interestingly because they believed the suspicion about his culpability was true.  Many felt that only a somewhat ruthless manipulator could win this war.  He was known to be a skilled orator who could win over an audience with his witty barbs.  But it could be true that his oratory was a sham, and that the audience in his speeches was already smitten and identified with him.

The third general had been a bureaucrat.  He had protested for years for what he saw as the wasteful and corrupt way in which the army had been managed.  He was known to be quite self-righteous, with archaic ideas about using only spears and clay shields in battle.  He had chosen his seconds-in-command carefully, and did not tolerate dissent that well.  When he had transitioned to the army from his ministry, he was very idealistic and captured the imagination of the army-men.  But over the years, his charisma had dwindled, due both to an intense scrutiny of him, and to some ill-advised populist decisions that he taken while on a campaign.  Though he was reputed to be honest and forthright, he was fond of promising great victories quickly without struggle.  This made many thoughtful people doubt whether the army could win under him.

There was going to be war, and the time to choose was coming.  The cacophony of each general's supporters was growing by the day.

What the supporters never, ever would be able to guess, was that the enemy was within the city, within themselves.  That the generals could only bring about a large victory if each of them won small victories every day against the enemy within.  That the blackness that had engulfed the nation-city had emanated from the dark hearts of its own manipulative citizens.  That the blame for the enemy's infiltration lay with each of them.  Yes, the more powerful had their inner light completely extinguished.  But whenever someone weak was given power in that city, it did not take long for him to also succumb to darkness.  That the fight against darkness was never going to be complete but a battle which lay ahead till eternity.

That the generals would never be able to win the war if the soldiers were not willing to fight.