If You Will


Have you heard people use this phrase recently? It is normally said to politely invite a listener or reader to consider something that is unusual or fanciful. The basic idea here is to soften the potential harshness of the way the conversation might otherwise sound. How gracious!

Contrast this with the news we hear each day. It seems that this form of political correctness has lost its favor with the average American. In fact, “telling it like it is” now trumps diplomacy and grace … pun intended. Today, it seems that bluster and shock therapy have taken center stage. And, if I accidentally or deliberately made you uncomfortable … well … I am not even sorry anymore.

This kind of reminds me of a Lucy phrase in the Charlie Brown series: If you can’t be right, be wrong at the top of your voice!” Ironically, some people seem to be able to get away with it. And, this reminded me of another phrase: “We can win the battle but lose the war.” Boy, we are in just such a potential place right now …

That raised my curiosity, and I researched where that phrase came from, which proved quite interesting. According to Wikipedia, it emanates from what is called a Pyrrhic victory. It is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit. Another term for this would be “hollow victory.”

The phrase Pyrrhic victory is named after king Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. After the latter battle the armies separated; and Pyrrhus lamented that what gave him joy in his victory would utterly undo him because he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him. There were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.

The term is used as an analogy in fields such as business, politics, and sports to describe struggles that end up ruining the victor. Some recent actions on the subject of feed-in tariffs and solar incentives seem squarely in the spotlight here. Yes, the industry has to realign incentives and rates to reflect the realities of where the solar economics seem to be right now, but I do fear we are headed for a Pyrrhic victory.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *