Here’s How the Virtuous Can Win Against the Vile

Pavan Chaudary’s wisdom for winning and thriving in life’s battles

Photo by Andreea Boncota on Unsplash

Writing for Medium, the sing-song is that you must give your essay, story or book, a title that really pops and rightly so. The fascinating title of Pavan Choudary’s book left an indelible mark on my mind until I finally grabbed an e-copy via Amazon Kindle.

Enter, When You Are Sinking Become A Submarine: Winning Through Wisdom and Creativity. Mr. Pavan Chaudary identifies two groups of people in the world of power. There are those for whom only the ends matter and others for whom the end is as important as the means. The first group he named the vile and the second the naive. The naive do often win in the struggle for power. But more often than not it is the vile that comes out on top.

With the unmistakable metaphor of a submarine, the author set out to educate the naives of this world on how they can overcome in a world where the vile seem to have the upper hand. Come to think of it, buffeted by the rolling waves of life’s tumultuous ocean, won’t you rather be a submarine? The author explained how we can all use wisdom and creativity to overcome the vile and thrive in life and in all relationships.

In one of the scenes in the 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond and his cooped Russian agent were driving hard to evade their nemesis, who was raining bullets on Bond’s car from a pursuing overhead chopper. At last, the only way of escape was for him to drive off a pier into the sea. The stupefied Russian agent, Anya Amasova, by Bond’s side could only stare on speechless and bewildered by their imminent end in a watery grave.

Things got interesting as the car once submerged transformed into a lethal mini-submarine. Unruffled even with prospects of an untimely demise, agent 007 released a sea-to-air missile from his mini-sub. The missile hit its target — the chopper that was still hovering above the sea and watching for any signs of escaping life from the drowning car. Bond and his companion subsequently made good their escape.

The year 1982 was the penultimate during my secondary school days. Those days, there were no TVs or radio sets at home, but Time and Newsweek magazines were accessible. Weeks or months old editions regularly exchanged hands from friends. That was how I could keep fairly abreast of world events from my remote Nigerian village.

For ten weeks in 1982, Argentina and Great Britain were at war over the Falkland Islands. Both sides suffered heavy military losses, but the British finally won. Compared to the British, the theatre of war was, relatively nearer home for Argentina’s Navy. The British Navy had to cover thousands of miles to confront their antagonists.

The bulk of the Argentine Navy was severely hamstrung and stocked at their home ports, unable to make the best use of their home advantage. Why? Deadly submarines from the British Navy had stalked Argentina’s shores and navy ports. The result was that the lethal power of the Argentine Navy was unavailable or not as effective as it would have been during the war.

The point being made here is not to celebrate or glorify war and militarism. In both of the cases described above, the power of stealthy submarines decided the outcome of the war and who returned home with the spoils of victory.

When You Are Sinking Become A Submarine, preceded many years by The Spy Who Loved Me is plausible wisdom for our times. Set out in the style of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power, the subtitle of Mr. Pavan’s book, Winning Through Wisdom and Creativity shed light on how we can survive the treachery of evil men — the vile.

Photo by Coco Championship from Pexels

Here are some of my key takeaways from Mr Pavan Choudary’s book:

  1. There are two dominant classes of people, the vile and the naïve

According to Mr. Pavan, the vile has lots of ambition but little conscience. Free of moral constraints, the vile freely acts the way he pleases. He is the friendly thief. Many of his victims never realize they have been robbed. Others only realize their losses when it has become too late. Over time, the vile uses his mastery of the art of manipulation and intimidation so effectively that even his victims sing his praise.

  1. Goodness of its own doesn’t win

The virtuous man often mistakenly believes that the world will not attack him just because he is a good man or that goodness (of its own) wins. If he doesn’t discover this erroneous view and amend his ways soon, he slowly becomes the virtuous loser. Outsmarted, browbeaten and defeated, he becomes the worst advertisement for virtuosity.

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.  — Dennis Wholey Click To Tweet
  1. Being virtuous but docile can turn your admirers off the good path

Unknown to him, the virtuous man can turn people away from the path of good through his own example. Why? Because he doesn’t realize that in some circumstances, to be good is to guarantee the triumph of evil.

He doesn’t know when to duck and when to fire. He even cannot realize that once in a while he has to pick up the hatchet for his own good and for the sake of the good. Often, he doesn’t even have a hatchet.

  1. The vile are fair-weather friends

The vile may proclaim that he is not just a fair-weather-friend. But that is exactly what he is. The vile consider and treats anyone who doesn’t fit in his profit and gain analysis as a waste of time.

A despot easily forgives his subjects for not loving him, provided they do not love each other.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

  1. The vile ensnares through various shades of lies and deception

The vile person knows that gigantic lies with some veneer of truth are easier to peddle and get the unsuspecting to swallow with eagerness. He also uses a subtle variation of this stroke by attaching some verifiable truth to a lie. Disarmed, the listener checks the former, finds it to be true, and assumes the rest is also likewise true. But the vile takes care that even though it is a big lie, the lie is still kept short. Short lies, he knows, have less chance of discovery. Lying by majority. Confidantes of the vile utter the same lie. Endorsement by the majority makes the lie more believable.

It is as useless to deal with dishonest people in an honest manner, as it is for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

~ Pavan Chaudary

It is as useless to deal with dishonest people in an honest manner, as it is for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion. ~ Pavan Chaudary Click To Tweet
  1. Some tips on how to spot the lies and deception of the vile
  • When trying to spot a liar, watch and listen carefully. An accused but innocent person will usually resent the accusations and want to explore the topic further. The guilty would want the subject changed and relax when it changes.
  • The liar often provides too much detail to overcompensate for his lies. In this process, he unwittingly gets entangled in his webs of lies.
  • To catch a liar, act as if you believe him. This might encourage him to go on and on and in the end betray himself. If a person conceals something, behave as if you do not believe him. This could lead him to tell the truth.

As the vile gloats over his small wins, he loses the most precious possession: goodwill. He loses people’s hearts. His defeat then is just a matter of time.

  1. Enemies are more likely to intimidate the fainthearted

Do boldly what you do at all, because lions only encircle the hesitant prey. When you show your willingness to compromise, negotiate or go on the defensive, you are usually pushed around without mercy. Others sense your weakness and make the most of it.

Most bullies mistake goodness for weakness. When we make ourselves a sheep, a wolf is always around. If they get away with something, they will strive to get more. So the more the bullies get away with, the more they want to get away… Click To Tweet

Those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you corrode yourself. First, you should not hate the person who attacks you. Hatred will blind you to the opportunities which his attack may bring forth.

Here are the key takeaways

  • There are two dominant classes of people, the vile and the naïve.
  • Goodness of its own doesn’t win.
  • Being virtuous but docile can turn admirers off the righteous path.
  • The vile are fair-weather friends.
  • The vile ensnares through various shades of lies and deception.
  • Study and use suggested tips for spotting the lies and deception of the vile.
  • Be bold, or be bullied.


The world is full of unscrupulous and vile people. Being good alone will not protect you from the wiles of the vile. You can increase your likelihood of surviving and thriving by applying the wisdom taught by Mr. Pavan Choudary to arm yourself, confront, and prevail against the vile.

Which of these key takeaways resonate with you most?

Copyright by © Pavan Choudary, When You Are Sinking, Become a Submarine, Wisdom Village Publications, 2006

I originally published this story on Medium

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