COMMENT From the ten thousand at Marathon, to the Thermopylae three hundred, the courage of the few have helped steel the entirety of Greece, to resist the massed armies of subsequent Persian invasions.
Instead of submissive gifts of earth and water they had so expected, the Persians found themselves faced with iron spears and shields of bronze.
And the steely gaze on the pale faces of citizen-soldiers nervously arrayed in phalanxes, men in whose cold white-knuckled death-grips, lies the fate of a determined, if divided, nation.
Either by cunning move or selfless sacrifice, these acts of defiance would bind the hopes and future of all of Greece and their aspirations as a free people.
For whether their home city is modeled after the democratic Athenian state, or styled along the lines of the oligarchic kingdom of Sparta, the Greeks shared a selfsame vision.
How much they prize their freedom and independence.
Even if only to be free to bicker among themselves, and submit only to a tyranny of their own making.
There is always talk, everyone hopes, everybody dreams, but sometimes you need something more than legend, to tip the balance.
A little snowflake to start off the avalanche, so to speak.
For when darkness comes, and hope’s sun is eclipsed, more then tales and inspiration, you need the daring of the few, and the courage of the desperate.
It is far easier to be smart and to flee, rather than to be brave and stand to face a seemingly unbeatable foe, something that some would say is stupid, or noble. Whichever way one sees it.
But when your back is up against the wall and there is nowhere else to run, even cowards will grow the chutzpah needed to be brave, and yellow-bellies turn into red-cloaked Spartans.
But perhaps we do not need people to be under arms to fight to defend what we believe in, maybe we don’t require citizens to turn into soldiers, and trade in their daily implements for the tools of war.
Maybe all we need is the right tick upon the ballot and the fearlessness to let those that would try to cow and run roughshod over us know, that we are not afraid to stand for what we believe in; in peaceful protest, if not on the fields of war.
And maybe the threat we face need not be a grasping empire or massed barbaric armies, but anything that threatens our rights and independence.
More homespun origins
Sometimes, as is worded into the Unites States’ pledge of allegiance, as well as the oath of enlistment for its armed forces, and oath of office for its officials, the enemy may have more homespun origins.
By statutory requirements, any new US citizen, armed forces member, or public official, are required to intone the oath, that they will “support and defend the laws and constitution of the United States from enemies, both foreign... and domestic”.
And therein lies the rub, or so the Great Bard would have said, if he were to have written the stranger than fiction epic that is our Malaysian story.
The enemy can be foreign, like the powers that be would like us to believe... or it can be domestic. Indeed it might be the very ones claiming to be the ones that is taking care of us and defending our economy.
The enemy might be the very one claiming to be our very good friend, showering us with brim-full gifts, sweets and candies.
Like diabetes that sets in when you have too many sweet things, the danger from such homespun enemies will not be clear and present from the get go.
But mind you, such an insidious enemy have corralled us, have herded us and is waiting perhaps just for the slaughter, for its rule and influence, more than what is democratically given to it, has expanded to reach the very limits and to the farthest reaches of the institutions of governance.
There are those that gather, hoping to move mountains, hoping to make a stand, hoping to make a difference. Here and there they will rise and gather. Here and there the beacon and torch is lighted.
One can only hope that there will be an answer to their call, for many more to join the tide, before it becomes too late. Maybe the daring of those few and the their courage in desperation will count for something, just like Marathon, just like Thermopylae, or perhaps Dataran Merdeka streets.
Or... maybe it is already too late, and our very own Darius’ son, Xerxes, is already at the gates.
HAZLAN ZAKARIA is a member of the Malaysiakini team.