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