"Looks like someone already thought of it," Gisella Killarney said as she set a double-tall mocha down in front of Melissa Fox. Constitutional Evolution's redheaded gamer slid into the second chair at the small table and glanced at the sketch her blond friend was touching up. Both wore light jackets and jeans. They'd been chatting over an aimless walk through Georgetown.
Melissa fuzzed out some graphite with her thumb, then set her pencil down and reached for the cup. "For real? Sun Tzu's been abducted by peaceniks?"
"Yep. The University of Victoria brought it up at the 'Art of War' Symposium in Beijing. 1998. They dubbed it 'peacefare'. Or, in the Chinese, ping-fa."
"Well, foo on that! Where'd they go with it?"
Gisella took a sip, and eyed a young stud just entering the D.C. coffee shop. "Not where you were, that's for sure. But they did make some good points we can use."
"Yeah. Like recognizing that unilateral disarmament ain't gonna cut it. But they seemed more concerned with remapping Sun Tzu's underlying constants than with the process itself. The folks from BC figured you still need some kind of moral law for the foundation of it all, and then swapped out Heaven and Earth for science and relevant solutions as the context it all happens in."
Melissa watched the busy barista behind the counter for a few seconds, then flipped to a fresh page and fluttered the pencil between her fingers. "What about leadership? I thought Sun Tzu was all about top-down command and control, generals moving soldiers around, like pawns in some live-fire board game."
"He was. Of course, that's part of the process he was modeling. For peacefare -- ping-fa -- the community is the actor. But they wimped out and pegged it on nations, which cuts the people out of the action anyway."
"Then let's lay out our own take on it, and see where we end up." She flipped her pencil to writing position and tapped the paper. "The way I see it, the process Sun Tzu was modeling comes down to four activities. Assessing the enemy's strengths and weaknesses, devising actions to exploit those weaknesses, amassing tools to implement the actions, and then engaging the enemy."
"Um." The guy Gisella had noticed earlier was standing nearby, cup in hand. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Melissa looked up at him. Five-eight or so, face fur, puzzled expression. "You've studied Sun Tzu?"
He shrugged. "Only tangentially. Mind if I join you? This sounds interesting."
"Pull up a seat. What's your interest?"
He swung a chair from the next table around, and slid in. "I'm Richard, by the way." He exchanged handshakes with them. "The Art of War sort of fell on me one day at a book store. I was looking for something on psychic self-defense, and thought it might be useful to get something on strategy under my belt."
Gisella grinned. "Fell on you?"