SURVIVAL IN DEEP PIT – VIRTUE OR SIN?
Military Service imparts survival skills as much as fighting skills. Infantry soldiers dig and prepare pits of various sizes to take cover while they come under enemy fire and to fight against advancing enemy.
Survival on battlefield depends upon external circumstances on which individual may have no control. Soldier may not have any option to get away from the battlefield. For the first time during my military career, while taking part in military action in Chittagong Hill Tracts in November 1971, I used US Army folding Shovel to dig a foxhole to take cover when enemy patrol spotted suspicious movement and started firing in our direction. We remained calm and just a couple of our men exchanged fire to keep the enemy patrol at a safe distance. We allowed the patrol to fire all its ammunition and retreat. We planned an attack on their camp on the following night and did not want the patrol to get any clue about an impending attack.
My Unit Adjutant, Captain Kottayam Chacko Kurien, Kochi Jew took the initiative to help me take cover using US Army shovel. My association with this Jew makes me to review the story of Joseph, son of Israel(Jacob), narrated in the Book of Genesis, the First Book of Moses. I could not escape from the consequences of my action or “KARMA” of using US Army Shovel to dig a pit to survive for a few hours while coming under intense fire. From the hours spent in pit, my life remains enslaved by external circumstances which I could never overcome successfully.
The Old Testament Book Genesis shares the story of Joseph thrown into a pit by his brothers.
Apparently, Joseph’s brothers hated him and they conspired to get rid of him.
Fortunately, Joseph survived his ordeal when his brothers changed their mind and sold him as slave.
But, not all of us could be as fortunate as Joseph. I may voluntarily choose confinement of entering a pit to survive while facing adverse external circumstances. It will not be easy to extricate oneself from such a pit if the pit grows deeper and deeper.
Indian tradition describes condition of proverbial ‘Frog in Deep Well’ using Sanskrit phrase “Kupa Manduk Nyaya.” It refers to a man who is arrogant and is unwilling to learn on account of intellectual pride.
Survival in a deep pit imposes challenges of its own. Apart from lack of mobility, man loses advantages of developing social relations, and gets virtually isolated while keeping his existence. Aesop’s Fable shares story of two Frogs deciding upon a place to survive.
When survival faces threat, man may have to choose confinement of deep well rather than making the foolish attempt to climb out of the deep pit. Man may not be able to save himself through his physical or intellectual effort if external circumstances erect insurmountable barriers.
I do not have physical or mental capacity to seek the world and people who exist outside my confined space. For I have no hope of emerging from the deep pit to claim victory, I seek satisfaction of learning from my defeat.
From bottom of the deep pit, I give thanks to God for letting me survive in a world where my ‘Brothers’ have eyes but cannot see, have ears but cannot hear and have hearts but do not understand my loss of Freedom(Book of Isaiah 6:9-10).