The Killing Power of the Small
I’m watching Body of Lies, a film which, in only 43 minutes has made a great number of interesting points. Those points have stimulated my imagination to see that the mysterious, chaotic phenomenon we’re lately calling “terrorism” was explained several hundred years ago in the I Ching, as The Killing Power of the Small, which is simply a situation in which wills contend, but real power is vested in force of arms, wealth and/or vastly greater numbers, but the smaller/weaker force exercises its lesser influence specifically at the most vulnerable links in the major power’s sphere of influence.
Thoreau, Gandhi and King advocated disobedience of the dictates of power by civil, peaceful and humane means, but the strength of will they also advocated was demonstrated tactically in protests to influence majority public opinion away from customary adherence to (objectionable) law and toward reform/re-envisionment of moral and legal precepts that are fundamental to the conduct of business-as-usual.
Terrorism is civil disobedience without the humane provision. Protests and demonstrations of minorty will actually do destabilize empires, unseat popular presidents, and move mountains. Civil disobedience without the humane provision led directly to the incarceration and assassination of the Black Panthers, to a wrong-headed, preemptive counter-attack on Iraq, and to the Obama presidency. The humanity clause is there for a reason; unimaginable consequences flow from its removal.
I’d like to thank Ridley Scott for yet another excellent lesson in the evils of xenophobia.
I’m saying that bin Laden is Gandhi on steroids and angel dust. The film says that our terrorist enemy is fighting the inevitable Wave of the Future (in many more ways than one, but specifically) by skipping the convenience and luxury of electronic communication to pass kill-orders and by exercizing medieval brutality to strike at the vulnerable kinks in the net that tie U.S. together.
Rather than obeying the wishes of our terrorist enemy; die or convert to whatever religion they say…read your Ching. It’s the distillation of culture, and We are small.
Okay, it’s actually The Taming Power of the Small, Hsiao Ch’u. I’ve aleady admitted to memory defects, and the quality of lethality injected by my semi-convenient misremembering not only makes for a more dramatic topic line, it also states the case I tried to make, that challenging authority with the explicit threat of violence opens a door to chaotic consequences (“police riot” much?) that defy prediction. It’s also very difficult to determine, when all the dust of expedited change has settled, whether or not that door is truly closed.