Once upon a time, three thirsty friends are traveling through a waterless jungle. Then one day they come upon a small pool which has a dead animal in it.
Friend # 1: I’d rather die than drink it. Let’s dig a well instead.
Friend # 2: Why don’t we try to purify the water in the pool as best we can and drink it?
Friend # 3: If we follow # 1, we’ll have clean and cool water. But it will take too long and we won’t have the strength to dig it ad wait until it’s clear and cool.
On the other hand, if we do as # 2 says, then we’ll have water soon enough to quench our thirst, but it won’t be enough to go on. So why don’t we put to use your ideas together? We’ll purify the water in the pool first. Then we’ll have the strength to dig a well and have enough supply of water for the rest of our journey.
It is a good parable that I had listened to when I was a kid. It teaches us that every drastic choice we make has its black and white. While one gives us as short term relief, the other is for a long term settlement. However, what is obvious is that the first choice is meaningless without the second, and the second could not be accomplished without the first.
We seem to be facing the same situation in the ongoing peace process, part of which can be compared to the pool in the parable. And like the pool in the story, it has a dead carcass of an animal in it, in the form of conditions.
And we are being given two choices:
But like Friend # 3 suggests, neither option cannot go without the other, because, like it or not, they do complement each other, both short term and long term. Certainly there’s no sin in combining them. Indeed, it will be for the good of all and sundry (as the late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe liked to put it: Common Aim, Diverse Actions)
Which does not mean that the troubles will be over. Just like the three friends in the story: Although they have water, they face other hazards, like wild animals, savages and harsh weather. Similarly, we may gain a lot from the present draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) if only we are proactive:
That doesn’t mean the rest of the process is a walk in the park. It is likely to be even harder and more dangerous than what we are facing now.
According to Sun Zi (BC 551-469), who wrote The Art of War (Sun Zi Bin Fa), momentum and timing are everything in any kind of struggle:
When the speed of rushing water reaches the point where it can move boulders, this is the force of momentum.
When the speed of a hawk is such that it can strike and kill, this is timing.
Momentum and timing lost will not be easy to bring back. Isn’t it the right momentum and time now?
Updated 10:30 am 6 August 2015
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