It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy's strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, be able to divide them; if equal, engage them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.
We are weaker than our enemy. I refer not to the proxies, the servants, but to the Slender Man himself. We are weaker than him. He can kill us with ease. Presumably, he does not kill us all because of some unknown and esoteric reason.
And so, with an opponent stronger than us, we must evade him. We run. We are runners.
And yet, at some point, we must stop running. We cannot run our entire lives. To do so would be folly.
So what do we do when we stop running? We prepare. We prepare to find against a godlike foe, to pierce his Achilles heel, to weaken and kill him. We must prepare for war.
The Art of War tells of five fundamental factors in planning for war:
- The Moral Law: "the people [must] be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. "
- Heaven: "night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons."
- Earth: "distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death."
- Leadership: "the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness."
- Management and Discipline: "the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure."
Just looking at the first factor presents a problem: we have no leader, no elected or unelected ruler of the runners. If we had, I'm pretty sure it would have been Ezekiel Strahm, but unfortunately that is no longer an option. Instead, we must fight leaderless.
This will be both problematic (who will have the last word?), but it might turn out to be fortunate for us: there would be no head to cut off in our army. No assassination could deprive us of a leader, since we would have no leader in the first place.
Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
In war, it may be necessary to dehumanize the enemy. In this case, that would be simple, since the main enemy is, quite assuredly, inhuman. And yet, those who serve him are human. Can we make them into monsters to kill? Can we ease our consciences when they die?
No. No, we must not tell ourselves stories like "They deserved to die." No one deserves death. If I could find a way to move the Slender Man into a world that was empty, void of all people, and trap him there without killing him, I would. But I can't.
Death is inevitable. Killing is a necessity in war. And yet, I can't bring myself to dehumanize even those who would serve him willingly. Even those sociopaths with knives in their hands, eager to do his bidding; even they, baseless and evil, are human.
Let us war, but let us not lie to ourselves.