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We Win Better When No One Has to Lose

Blood stains, torn uniforms, flying grenades, explosions, men screaming, broken bones, broken wills, bullet wounds, bodies for rugs, morbid air and the stench that comes with it, the noise of pain, dying horses; dying men.


When it comes to war, nobody makes it out whole. I want you to briefly think of war in terms of the sky falling. When the sky falls, nobody makes it out alive.

My younger brother and I revisited a scene in the popular James Bond movie – Skyfall. In the movie, the villain was telling James Bond a story about a time when he lived with his grandmother on a small island in the middle of nowhere. They had been away from the island for a while and when they got back, rats in numbers had infested their entire house. How do you get rid of rats on an island without them coming back?

His grandmother had a clear strategy. The Rats were there because of the coconuts found on the island and so the first thing was to lure them. She found a huge drum and strategically positioned coconuts around it so as to lure them into the drum. And one by one, every rat got trapped in the drum.

So, now you have a drum full of rats. What do you do with them? Nothing. Soon, the rats get hungry. Then they have to eat. So they start eating one another until there are just two rats in the drum. These are the winners. And the most important thing about war, is winning.

After the battle comes ‘freedom’. So, you release these rats to go out and be free. But, these rats no longer eat coconuts; they now eat rats. They have lost themselves.

This is indeed how wars are. The bitter truth is that, in war, every fighter dies. Whether they wind up as slaves or free men; whether they are rich men or poor rats, they all lose parts of themselves emotionally, psychologically, or physically. The only people winning are the ones outside the battlefield. But, if the way to win a war is to end it, why fight in the first place?

If all is fair in love and war, why choose war and not love? Even the author of the art of war Sun Tzu, stated that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Why go into war in which everybody is bound to lose and not just choose winning straightaway?

Two problems. The first one is:

We Tend To Focus More On The Concept Of War As Oppose The Better Concept That Is Winning

We focus on the fights; we get into the blame game. We have long arguments for questions that Google can solve. We have arguments trying to prove our debate skills. And we get so lost in the idea of being the victim or the one who has been offended instead of focusing on solving problems amicably and understanding the perception of others. I can imagine that the rats were probably stuck in this place insulting each other, fighting about who is right and who is wrong and whose fault it was that they were on the island in the first place, instead of amicably solving the challenge at hand. This brings us to the second problem.

When We Do Think Of Winning, We Think Of It As A Mutually Exclusive Event

In other words, we believe that our winning means the other person has to lose. When in truth, the best kinds of wins are the ones where everybody is happy. Win-win! In that case, there would have been no need for war in the first place. This is one thing that slowly eats us up as a people. You’ll see brothers and sisters of the same country fighting for what is already theirs. So instead of solving external problems, we turn on ourselves and fight. Meanwhile we the fighters never win.

Every form of war is amendable before it begins. There is no point getting lost in the gory place that is a battlefield when it could have been won outside. What the rats in our case study should have done is to work. They could have mounted pressure together to tip over the drum to one side. They could have worked together to escape. Where there is will in unity, there is always a way.

The most important thing about war is winning. Let’s skip the war part and go straight for the win in our everyday lives. It is the only way we can truly preserve our minds and own our peace.

This article was first published on Lawretta Egba’s blog.

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