Unwinnable Wars

My thoughts as a new decade dawns.

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle. ” ~ Phillips Brooks

Some wars are just unwinnable. Usually we don't know how they started in the first place. Not that we could do much if we did. All we know is we are in it now. We might be tempted to take the easiest route to end a war, not fight it. Isn't non-violence the way anyways? The pacifists do have a point. Not fighting, quitting, running away, hiding under a rock, these are all options. Until they run out. When we fight, we might lose our life, or worse. But if we don’t, we will definitely lose our soul.

You see, of all the wars we may find ourselves sitting on the edge of, it is the unwinnable ones that need fighting.

Don't decide to fight a war based on whether it can be won. Decide to fight if the war deserves fighting.

The odds are stacked against us. The other side is too strong, their position too strong. Their war cry shakes the very earth you stand on. They have numbers. They have strength. They are stronger in every way conceivable. We have lost to them in the past. They have rolled over folks much stronger than you. As we stand on the edge, ruing our shields and armour, we find the war has already engulfed us.

Unwinnable wars provide us true freedom. They liberate us from the weight of victory.

But it is exactly the unwinnable wars we must fight. Every unwinnable war is an opportunity for us to know what we are made of, of our true worth, to awaken the warrior within.

Unwinnable wars provide us true freedom. They liberate us from the weight of victory. Knowing the war is unwinnable frees us from focusing on the outcome, but instead all we have is the effort. In fighting, our focus shifts from the end result to the fight itself. Knowing we will lose means there is no more fear of losing. Defeat is inevitable. Every victory from here on is a bonus. An event to celebrate. Maybe we will not see another victory again. The focus is on fighting every battle as hard as we can. Keep going. Knowing we will lose means the smile on our face only grows as we meet head on insurmountable odds.

The reward of an unwinnable war is in the fight, victory is just a welcome side-effect. A distraction even.

And then, as the focus shifts to the fight itself, we find something strange has started to happen. The little victories have become more and more frequent, our celebrations more joyous, our smiles bigger. The war suddenly does not seem so unwinnable anymore. From our hopelessness comes hope. Ironically though, at that time the struggle becomes harder. Staying focused on the fight seems harder. The end result is a distraction. A distraction we cannot afford. And so we must continue to fight as if the war is still unwinnable, focusing on the fight. Continue to use the hopelessness to fuel our efforts.

Unwinnable wars are everywhere. Some are personal, like losing that weight we wanted to lose. Or developing a better relationship with our spouse or significant other. Or accomplishing our dreams. Write that novel. Quit that job. Some are bigger than us - end pollution, fight for equality, build a better world. For some, we may find our friends stand with us. For others, we stand alone. But once we are in it, we find out we are really not alone. There is at least one more idiot who’s in the same fight. And that makes all the difference.

In the end, all I can say for certain is this, "Know this, every fight is unwinnable until it is fought. If the war is never fought, it is unwinnable. Simply by fighting, the bets are off.

So suit up. An unwinnable war awaits. Pick it. Fight it. Keep fighting.

God bless.

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