The above proverb has almost become a cliché. Every one must have used it at one point of time in life. My hunch is that the number of males using this would be much higher than the number of females. This could be because, despite corrupt females coming on scene, still fewer females are inclined to take law into their own hands. For some inexplicable reason, I have never felt comfortable with this oft repeated phrase. Doesn’t it by itself convey that something has been done that ought not to have been done? The frequency with which this is being used these days only hints towards the declining morals in the society. But could it ever be justified? Let is examine!
To begin with, there are three key terms: fair, love and war. The dictionary meaning of these words is as under:
FAIR: treating people equally; just or appropriate;
LOVE: very strong affection, very strong affection and sexual attraction, great liking.
(Love affair: a romantic or sexual relationship between two people who are not married to each other)
WAR: state of armed conflict
As per the website www.phrases.org.uk/bulletinboard, “the use of this has been traced to John Lily’s “Ephesus” (1578). First attested in the US in “Horse Shoe Robinson” (1835). The proverb is usually used to justify cheating”. If that be the case, can cheating be ever justified? No. In my humble opinion cheating can never be justified! Even Gandhi ji said “ends cannot justify means”. I would go a step further and say, foul means can defile even the most glorious cause.
Let us first examine as to whether all is fair in the war i.e., armed conflict. Remember, here we are not talking of the fights between two individuals or groups; we are talking of armed conflict among nations, the situation which might have prompted the use of the proverb! India defeated Pakistan army in Bangla Desh war in1971 and captured over 90000 Pakistani soldiers. But they were not killed; they were provided food and other basic amenities and finally repatriated to Pakistan. We, on the other hand, often complaint against Pakistan for maltreating our soldiers. We know that Pakistan is always at war with India. If all is fair in love and war then why do we complaint? Some Iraqi soldiers were maltreated by the US troops in Guatemala camps. A lot of hue and cry was raised all round and those responsible for the ill treatment were prosecuted. Why? If this phrase were true, there would be no UN, no Geneva Convention on war and no Human Right movements! There are conventions to be followed even during war. Chemical weapons are still not allowed. Can someone using them be forgiven under the garb of this fairness? Even In the great war of Mahabharata, there were rules to be followed. All the international treaties clearly demonstrate that wars are to be fought according to rules.
If all is not fair in war can it be so in love?
What is love? If we see the definition given above, love is great liking/affection which may have sexual attraction. Some times we say “Love is God”. Most religious prophets have extolled love as a virtue that is the first prerequisite to meet God. Bhagat Kabir said “dhai aakhar prem ka parhe so pandit hoi” meaning that one who learns the lesson of love is really enlightened. Guru Gobind Singh said “saach kahon sun leo sabhai, jin prem kiyo tinhi prbh payo” meaning, listen every body, I speak the truth, one who loves attains God. How cans a feeling that leads us to God, incite one to cheat others? These days we often read in the newspapers that a boy has killed a girl because she refused to reciprocate his love! Or has thrown acid on her face to teach her a lesson. What a travesty of such a
Beautiful feeling it is? How can a person who is in love kill his beloved? Do we as a society approve of such action? Love they say is always ready to sacrifice. How can one hurt others and still claim to be in love?
Of late Haryana (even Punjab) has been in the news for this love/war syndrome. The girl and the boy who love each other (fairly) break the norms of the society. What type of love is this that forces you to hurt your own parents who brought you up so painfully? And then, we have those khap panchayats who declare a “war” on these lovelorn couples and declare their marriages void. If they don’t abide by their dictates, they decree to kill them. Can these actions be justified by saying “all is fair in love and war”?
We claim that MAN is the most glorious creation of God and believe that He created Man in His own image. But the fact is that we have failed to live up to that expectation of God and have proved are the cruelest creation of God. No where in the animal kingdom the desire for possessiveness is as strong as in human beings. And this desire is at the root of all our selfish actions which force us to proclaim “All is fair in Love and war.”
Let us not forget that Love is the name of sacrifice, of giving, not taking. It is certainly not snatching. And giving never needs unfair means. Nature simply gives and gives. Let us also not forget that being human means playing fair to others, needy and weak.
War is the antithesis of nature and cannot be justified as a just cause. Unfair means used to win a war are doubly deplorable. No, sir, all is certainly not fair in Love or war.