The Lost War

she said losing love is like a window in your heart
and everybody sees you’re blown apart
everybody feels the wind blow

-Paul Simon, Graceland, Graceland

He was right, except that it is not just about losing love, it is about losing. Period. If and when you are losing, people understand; they see through – they know, and possibly know why.

To go into war without conviction or a sense of purpose, is to lose every battle and surrender by ignoble death; to surrender without waving the white flag. I can almost visualise the drudgery of the soldiers’ march to the battlefield. It is slow, out-of-sync march, and out of step, carrying the burden of the armour and the heavier weight of imagined impending inevitability, the sword dragging along, as angry as it may be at the wielder for it will never be able to fulfil its purpose. I can almost imagine the pikes held loath and limp in the schiltron, trembling, as if waiting to be laid to rest on the ground, in complete submission.

Reluctant soldiers, these.

Orwellian, in belief. As if, “The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory.

History is replete with examples where commoners have taken up arms instead of their usual tools of trade, only to be able to take up the tools of their trade, again, peacefully. That seems like a very clear purpose to me, even noble and seeking unbiased respect.

If there has to be a war, then there has to be a noble purpose and that purpose has to be owned by every individual who walks armed or otherwise into battlefield – we don’t bargain to become soldiers – most of us don’t. But, if there is a real war, you have to decide where you stand. The choice, not to fight is your own and respectable in its own merit.

Don’t, however, walk into a war without conviction, leading the army to defeat, defeating the purpose of those who believe. Don’t participate in a war that you don’t believe in. Soldiers aren’t warmongers in themselves – they have a sense of belief. Soldiers fight so that you don’t have to. You don’t have to. Don’t be the impostor. A uniform doesn’t assure noble beliefs and convictions. The belief of the soul of the body that wears the uniform is what brings respect to the uniform. There is more than meets the eye in the soldier’s uniform. Something that can only be sensed – can’t be seen.


Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


8 thoughts on “The Lost War

  1. I think courage is like a match stick, it needs friction to be lit…for courage to be generated within a soul, you need that friction..nobody is born with it, and it most certainly cannot be borrowed..:)

    As always, beautiful post..


  2. It’s probably worse to have luke warm opinions about something, than to be hot (fanatic) or cold (indifferent) about it. I agree, you definitely need to believe in the cause you’re fighting for.


  3. Emerson also wrote …”Fear is cruel and mean.
    The political reigns of terror have been
    reigns of madness and malignity – a total perversion
    of opionion; society is upside down, and its best
    men are thought too bad to live.”

    I wonder about courage, nobility and bravery.
    Often i think now in war that soldiers are filled
    with despair – unsure what it is they are truly
    fighting for and for whom?

    And Voltaire said “One of the chief misfortunes
    of honest people is that they are cowardly.”

    How does a good heart find its way with courage
    through the liespeak of word spinning leaders?

    And about loss, I have been blown apart by loss-
    (“a soul losing love as if it were losing blood”)
    and the quote is wise – i felt my sadnes was
    written all over me like a weeping poem –
    everyone can feel it as we have all lost –
    eventually you will find the person who has been put
    in this world to find you.



  4. many wars start with conviction but end with confusion, betrayal and complete loss of ideology….most of the time its not the soldier conviction but the conviction of his political masters fed to him like steroids…

    ….so many war fought for ideologies and “ism”…idelogies which fade and wither away with time…what a waste of young life…a world with lot of conviction and war & a world with less of conviction and war…wud prefer the second option


  5. ==Sushma:
    The rigour of war extinguishes the flame for some, they remain smouldering embers, remnants of a war that could have been. Courage, I agree with you, is like matter. Cannot be created or destroyed.

    Thank you 🙂

    Glad you got what I meant to say! 🙂

    War and all its elements are metaphors of everyday living and beliefs. Each one of us is a soldier in our own right.

    I doubt if honest people are cowardly, they are just non-confrontational? I remember a dialogue from a Hindi movie, loosely translated, “Do not misunderstand our decency for our weakness.” The reference to weakness here was to fight, retaliate, of sorts 🙂

    The soldier doesn’t have choice?

    Wars that go down in history and cause loss of life are the ones that can be avoided. In our own hearts and minds there will always be struggles, beliefs of everyday things that require us to fight? No bloodshed here, no guns, but will there ever be a time when we don’t need to struggle anymore?

    Also, I think, lesser the conviction, more the war? 🙂

    I am glad it did, and yes, that’s a rare one @ sushma’s comment. Glad you cam by! Hmm, left hand and not a single typo, how’s the RSI?


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