The free online dictionary defines Pliant as:

1. Easily bent or flexed; pliable.

2. Easily altered or modified to fit conditions; adaptable.

3. Yielding readily to influence or domination; compliant.

Its synonyms include: amenable, ductile, elastic, flexible, governable, limber, lissom, malleable, manageable, plastic, pliable, soft, supple,  tractable, yielding.

You may have heard this word used for metals. You might have thought the usage extends to the physical world alone- whether applied to humans, plants or animals. You must have heard of pliancy lauded as a survival tactic. You have been told many times that the tree that is not pliant in the face of an adverse wind will break.

Pliancy is a very desirable survival tool… irrespective of cadre, rank or profession. I wonder if you’ve ever realized what a great leveler this one trait is. It brings everyone down to the same vat  of molasses.

A pliant being is flexible. He can turn every which way at the drop of a hat. His ethics are malleable and his principle- when present- are amenable. Automatically and inevitably, they are impregnated with a heavy dose of pragmatism. Thus they become a deadly weapon to mow down the undesirables- such as the non- pliant.

Their pliancy covers them like a protective shield made of a slippery gel like substance that doesn’t permit anyone to pin anything on them. This renders them safe from all kinds of stink bombs. The bombs just skid off them and waste their power uselessly on some non- protected (read intractable) fool. Which is how it should be, of course.

This makes the pliant one governable. When an entity is governable, it presupposes that there is another entity that governs. Power is wasted until there are hands pushing the buttons to put the power to use. That, however, is not the concern of the limber ones. They are too busy turning lissom somersaults, flipping back and forth. They even look graceful- to some.

They are the most yielding and manageable people on earth. They will soft enough to slip into any mold and supple enough to wriggle out of any tight corner. They are elastic enough to turn over backwards on any issue. You can make a pretzel out of them if you like. They are like soft dough. The kind that, lovingly and for all eternity, retain the shape of the hand that punched them in the face. They can be twisted into any shape you care to have them in. You can pound them into a flat sheet or roll them into tight little wires. There is no end to their ductility. Sometimes you might confuse them with a bit of soft metal like lead. Make no mistake though, they are human.

You’ll know it when they wrap their pliable selves around your rock-like body and try to drag you into their vat of molasses. When they find you cannot be moved, they call in the reinforcements. A horde of other pliable beings then wrap themselves over you and slowly crush you to death. They are the masters of survival; they are the fittest species of all.

Personally, I prefer the intransigent kind; I know where I am with them.



Picture mine

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4 thoughts on “Pliant”

  1. Hmmm! I like pliancy when it comes to understanding cultural and social differences – nothing as bad as an intransigent person who thinks you are evil because you are different. But, comes to values, pliancy is more than a weakness, it is a sin.

    1. Suresh,

      I too like pliancy… in being willing to see another person’s point of view. And for the record, I am not a fan of an intransigent person who thinks being culturally/ socially different is a mark of evil. To be honest, I’ve never come across such a person. Have you?

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