“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, c. 512 BC

The dinner guests in the PBS documentary lacked the “epiphany” Connie Rice describes in Chapter 10 of Power Concedes Nothing (2012). She writes,

“Without freedom from violence, there are no other freedoms. And without viable education, there is no self-determination—and no way up. Without these, the lifelines of the twenty-first century, liberty’s promise is a lie. A lie we enabled with gestures of charity, court victories that delivered partial remedies, and pilot programs that offered them the illusion of opportunity and us the delusion of decency.”

Rice, Power Concedes Nothing, 2012

Angela Dawson believed association with Baltimore’s public safety professionals was the best strategy to get rid of the drug dealing and violence in her neighborhood. But hard power alone, e.g. the police, cannot control urban gangs indefinitely even in our own country.

“Throwing a few thousand more paramilitary police on the thin blue line and declaring more wars was unlikely to solve much of anything in Bel Air and likely to aggravate a lot in Watts. The war on gangs had racked up an impressive body count but had left the gangs stronger, more unified, and in control of ever more territory, including every housing project and park they claimed. Law-abiding neighbors feared the gangs and the police equally, and all of their nonviolent neighbors being sent to prison for drug use and low-level drug dealing were just learning how to become better criminals and less eligible for the area’s dwindling jobs.”

Rice, Power Concedes Nothing, 2012

In other words hard power alone, e.g., the exclusive use of force, makes the problem of local gang violence or global radical religious terrorism worse, not better. Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese General and conflict resolution strategist, wrote that the best method to use against one’s opponent is one that avoids violent war altogether. In other words he advocated soft power over hard power. Soft power is not hard to understand. The modern concept of the term comes from Joseph Nye, former Dean at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. But it is an ancient concept and one that women are especially adept at mastering, if they are properly educated.

The critical strategy that women must use to peacefully overpower men is one they instinctually possess. When men seek to control them using fear and intimidation women must befriend each other. They must associate with other courageous wo/men and rebuild civil society one city block at a time. They must restore honor to those who defend each home against anti-social predators. Respect for those women and men who value the leadership roles of good mother and good father must be restored. It can be done. As every U.S. military fire team, squad, platoon and company knows, you can learn how to fight for each other in a matter of weeks. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, together you can forge a united team that bullies fear. Communities can, likewise, learn how to fight peacefully for each other.

William James, America’s pragmatic philosopher, once stressed the need for a “moral equivalent of war.” But we live in a society that has led us to believe the control of individuals, gangs and cultures that habitually use, advocate or condone violence against women and children is someone else’s problem. We have been led to believe violence is a problem for “the professionals” to handle. Worldwide there is a gap of 100 million women who are dead that ought to be alive. The professionals have failed to manage the problem well. It is time for amateurs to take on this problem and wage the moral equivalent of war. If you are game you are more than welcome to the St Lawrence Women’s Leadership Challenge.