A lot of things went wrong on April 19, 1993, twenty years ago today, in Waco, Texas. [2-7]
A siege is almost always a bad idea. There are times when the better idea is to back off, and lose today’s game. This game is temporary. Easy to say, twenty years later.
Siege warfare was a big part of the English Civil War from 1642-1651. It is the reason we have so many of those beautiful, 360-year old ruins across the British landscape today. The Royalists and the Parliamentarians would lay siege to their enemy one year, and the next year, reverse roles. After about nine years of this, the game lost much of its attraction. Imagine playing tic-tac-toe with your sibling for nine years. Cat’s game?
The English had their issues to resolve. Does King and Crown rule by divine right? Is Parliament more than an advisory body for the Crown? The 1500’s saw the Bible printed in English, and an Augustinian Monk post way-too-many potential debate topics on a church door in Wittenberg. (As an over-processor, who typically gives way too-much-information, I can relate to his sincere motive. “But Dr. Martin, could you please suggest just two or three? Just six months ago, we wrapped up five years of ecumenical debates and we’ll have more.”)
What were the issues at Waco? The Branch Davidians believed they had the Truth, and withdrew from society to study and practice their beliefs at their Mount Carmel Center just outside of Waco. As with many separatist groups, they ended up putting themselves at great risk, by isolating themselves from the greater community. The society outside believed the children were at risk, and called for the intervention by federal authorities. Once the compound was tipped off regarding the approaching authorities, the compound locked down and the separatists armed themselves. The Branch Davidians were prepared for a long siege.
Sometimes, it is much better to take a temporary setback, and begin again tomorrow. Hindsight being 20/20, it is easy to say that April 19, 1993 was such a day.
More Info, Footnotes, and Lessons learned:
- Of course, it is also the anniversary for the Oklahoma City Bombing of the Murrah Building, activities at Ruby Ridge, in northern Idaho, the FBI siege on the compound of The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSAL) in Arkansas, the explosion of a gun turret on the USS Iowa, killing 47 sailors, and many other military and civil events, given that it is an early Spring day.
- Waco Siege wiki
- YouTube– Waco Tragedy After 51-Day Standoff
- PBS– Frontline– Waco: The Inside Story
- The Tragedy at Waco– Paul H. Blackman
- I Stand Alone– Waco, Texas
- National Geographic– Waco Tragedy
- Where’s the Love? Unfortunately, the English Civil War is just one example of the lack of Respect and Tolerance that should have been produced by any decent system of values. Where does Love Thy Neighbor fit in? For over thirty-six years (from 1562–1598), the French had civil war in the French Wars of Religion. In the end, about 200,000 French Huguenots emigrated from France to other nations, especially in the New World. How does siege warfare apply to today’s market? In rare instances, folks take “sides” and tit-for-tat get each other’s friends fired; same game.
- Martin Luther, as a devout Augustinian monk, was a well-studied, passionate and formidable debater of theological subjects among his peers.
- The Fifth Council of the Lateran spanned five years (19 April 1512 – 16 March 1517). Participants included fifteen cardinals, the Latin patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, ten archbishops, fifty-six bishops, some abbots and generals of religious orders, the ambassadors of King Ferdinand, and those of Venice and of Florence. Given the size of the faith, Martin Luther had little to no input. The Council closed only seven and-a-half months before he posted his 95 Theses.
- Ecumenical Councils were efforts by the Vatican to modernize the Petrine tradition, ecumenize with reformers, and evangelize the faith. With scores of ecclesiasts involved, the process was long and complicated.
- Lesson Learned– When circumstances mandate, be humble enough to graciously lose today’s game. Know how to humbly lose today’s sale, when needed, and be able to keep the relationship with your customer. There will be greater opportunities later. The relationship is more important.
- Lesson Learned– As John Donne famously penned in 1623, “No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.”
- Lesson Learned– If we believe we have the one version of the truth, should we not find a way to provide it to the rest of our community and society at large? If we have a solution, let’s be solution champions! Sell it. Lease it. Give it away.
- Lesson Learned– Keep in touch with the other stakeholders in your community.
- Lesson Learned– Love thy neighbor.
- Lesson Learned– “Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man.” –General George Patton
- Lesson Learned– “Laying siege to a city is only done when other options are not available.” — Sun Tzu
- John Donne was a priest who struggled between Catholic and Protestant worlds about the year 1600. He secretly married and had twelve children. Among prolific writings, he is known for this excerpt from his Meditation XVII— No Man Is An Island.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.