The Chinese Professor and The Art of War

The Chinese Professor video [below] was developed by a conservative American economic think tank not as a Republican ad during the recent mid-term elections as i originally assumed. At first i only saw snippets of it on the news, then the other day i went to YouTube and watched it completely a few times. It is an excellent example of how powerful the use of archetypal symbols can be. It's well made, it's very effective and its underlying message reminds me of a few pertinent lessons from Sun Tzu's 'Art of War'-written in the 6th century BC.

Sun Tzu's treatise, and the commentaries on it, are taught in every military academy in the world. It's also studied in every business school, most philosophy departments and many others in almost every language on earth. Why? Because the Art of War isn't just about military issues, Sun Tzu's logic is easily adapted to all of our lives everyday.

Sun Tzu says, "To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." Sounds like the message in The Chinese Professor to me. Sun Tzu's first rule of war is to own the ground [as we don't in Afghanistan]. Hence Sun Tzu said, "Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle and will arrive exhausted."

Sun Tzu's Art of War says, "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

Sun Tzu says that the second rule of war is to know your enemy. This is the deeper lesson of The Chinese Professor video. Know your advisory as well as you know yourself. Know your advisary's arguments, his knowledge, his strenghts, his weaknesses in all things. Belittling one's adversary, using invective as a replacement for insight, using simple slogans to avoid complicated counter arguments do nothing to widen any one's path-instead these self-imposed blinders are leading us into the jaws of the dragon.