“People kill to get power, they kill to keep power, and they kill if they think they might lose it, which is pretty much always. … They won’t back off because you give up. They’ll come on harder.”
– Valyn hui’Malkeenian, The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, by Brian Staveley
Brian Staveley really has a knack for capturing potent ideas with vast repercussions within just a few words.
In this scene in the novel, Valyn’s brother, Kaden, is contemplating the idea of giving up the fight that has been handed to him. It’s barely begun, but there’s already been so much bloodshed, and all for what? A throne? Kaden wonders if the bloodshed might stop if he quietly vanishes, allows the enemy to win. If he lets the enemy have what they want, he reasons, he can end the bloodshed just like that.
In Kaden’s defense, it’s a perfectly human thing, to want to give up, stop fighting a fight you never wanted to fight in the first place. Valyn, however, knows better than his brother. There’s always people willing to kill for power. They can dress it up however they like, use the good name of whatever they like as a mask and a cloak, but it’s always power that they want, and anything which could threaten that power, they will do their utmost to annihilate it. It could have something to do with race, religion, tradition, occupation, ethnicity… anything can be used as an excuse. Sooner or later, likely sooner, there will be someone the usurpers see as a threat to their power, and that will result in more death and destruction. To protect these future victims, their only option is to keep fight the enemy now, and fight until they’re either victorious or dead.
Giving up the fight does not end the fight. Neither does it change that the fight must be fought, or all is lost already.
There are so many examples of this in the world. I hesitate to mention them only because I do try to keep my blog free from politics and bile, including my own. So I shall simply say this, and leave it at that:
Surrender does not work. Appeasement does not work. Giving up does not work. Not when your goal is to protect.
Because every force in the world, natural or man-made, only surges forward all the more strongly wherever there is less opposition, less resistance.
Every tyrant, every fanatic, every murderer, every rapist, every robber, every swindler, every hacker, every bully… they all love it when there is less resistance. That just means they can do whatever they want. Which is how they define the power they want.