Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ender Refused the Lashes

My older kid is reading Ender's Game for school. She has just started and got to the part where Ender fell the bully that was hurting him. Ender tells the bully's friends that they may think they'll get the same if they try to hurt Ender but will, in fact, get worse. He then kicks his tormentor in the face spewing blood on the ground.

There is a Arab proverb that goes something like, "If you cannot kill a thing with your sword, kill it with 1,000 lashes." The meaning can be applied to almost any task from cleaning a garage to fighting a sworn enemy.

In Ender's case, his tormentors did not even want to use a sword but instead administer the lashes.

My daughter asked why Ender had to kick him in the face. We worked through it together. He did not have to kick him in the face. But if he had not, then either Stilson, the bully, or his friends would return later to continue their degradation of Ender.

My daughter is one of the kindest people I know and could not fathom why they were hurting Ender (she knows that happens but cannot reason why people are like that). She also had trouble working out why Ender chose the course of action that he did.

I explained and she understood that to dissuade the bullies from ever tauting him again, he had to be brutal with their leader. By doing so, everyone else was afraid of him.

There is certainly a parallel here with the U.S. defensive strategy. If there is a reason for me not to like George W. Bush when it comes to national defense, it is that he refuses to kick our enemy in the head while he is down, sentencing us and our children and our grand-children to the other 999 lashes to come.

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