Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Golden Bridge

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (Scipio, for short) is considered to be among the greatest generals in the history of the world. About 200 years before Christ, he ended the greatest threat to ever face the Roman Republic by defeating Hannibal of Carthage in Hannibal's own land without any military or financial aid from Rome.

Scipio is credited with being the first recorded man to promote the use of what is sometimes called the golden bridge. According to Vegetius:

"Most people ignorant of military matters believe the victory will be more complete if they surround the enemy in a confined place or with large numbers of soldiers, so that they can find no way of escape. But trapped men draw extra courage from desperation, and when there is no hope, fear takes up arms. Men who know without a doubt that they are going to die and will gladly die in good company.
For this reason, Scipio's axiom has won good praise, when he said that a way should be built for the enemy to flee by. For when an escape-route is revealed, the minds of all are united on turning their backs, and they are slaughtered unavenged, like cattle. Nor is there any danger for the pursuers once the defeated have turned round the arms with which they could have defended themselves. In this tactic, the greater the numbers, the more easily is a mass cut down. For there is no need of numbers in a case where the soldiers' minds, once terrified, wish to avoid not just the enemy's weapons but his face. Whereas trapped men, though few in number and weak in strength, for this very fact are a match for their enemies, because desperate men know they can have no other recourse. 'The only hope of safety for the defeated is to expect no safety.'
- Vegetius, Epitoma Rei Militaris III, xxi

The golden bridge is the perceived route of escape. It gives people a reason to stop fighting and try taking the easy way out. What they don't realize is that it's actually a trap that ensures their defeat more easily and soundly than fighting to the last man.

If you corner the bear, you get mauled. If you let it run, you get a free shot at its back.

Now, I'm going to throw a thought out there, and I'm sure it's not going to be very popular. Here goes:

In the United States of America, the vote is your golden bridge.

That's not to say that you shouldn't vote. Every American citizen ought to diligently consider exercising this freedom. The key is to not let it fool you into ignoring the deeds that can actually bring about change for the better. As to what those other deeds are, I'll leave that for you to dwell on.

We must not get caught up in the mindset that situations will improve if we just get enough of the right politicians in office. Ain't. Gonna. Happen. Digging up dirt on this politician or campaigning for that poitician are only ways of treating the symptoms of a system that is broken at its core, and those who are truly in control want you to believe that you're really making a difference if you just do these things. As you run across the golden bridge they have set up for you, your back is exposed and they don't have to worry about defending themselves.

Let's be honest. Your right to vote has driven you to complacency. You have used it as an excuse to throw up your hands and say, "I did my part."

If you're one of the sorry creatures that gets upset or depressed when an election doesn't go your way, if you place all your hopes for the future of this country on what the polls are telling you about the next election, you are the problem. Your favorite party isn't going to fix what is actually broken. It isn't driven by moral obligation or patriotic duty, and it's certainly not driven by you. The fact that you and the rest of this country don't recognize the golden bridge for what it is ensures the fate of this land just as the fleeing soldier ensures the victory of his attacker.