If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armour should not be,
No drum nor trumpet peaceful sleeps should move,
Unless alarm came from the camp of Love:
But fools do live, and waste their little light,
And seek with pain their ever-during night.
When all around us sound the call to arms, it is right to remember that there is another way, that we must choose ours and that our choice will be remembered.
Some will always opt to slash their way through their short existence, decimating life and beauty and cherishing violence and war as if it were a sweet object of desire. Others will deliver their souls and their bodies to those they love and together they will create life rather than destroy it.
Warriors have existed for as long as we have. We may share the capacity for love with other members of the animal kingdom, but war is our perverse distinction, our most dangerous and seductive invention. (The Civil War general Robert E. Lee said, “It is well that war is so terrible for we should grow too fond of it.”) The natural world may be savage and cruel in its hunt for food and survival, but it has no equivalent to war. We alone make war on our own kind.
I know there is a warrior in me too. I feel it: it is in our blood, our history, our genes. We are, after all, human and we cannot escape our destiny. There are times when we must fight to protect those we love. But there are too many other times when this ancestral call is used to justify what cannot be justified.
Sadly, when mankind loses its way, its worst instincts — but clearly not its animal instincts because if we were animals we would not make war — prevail. It is then, more than ever, that the lovers must come forth.
If I am to be a warrior, let me be a warrior of love.
This is the battle cry I can rouse myself to. My way is the way of love and its fecund, playful days. I am not made for hard things that cut and damage what God made; my arms are soft and supple and out-reaching. They are not built to push away but to draw people in.
If, as Catullus says, all men were like me there would be no need for swords or armour. Instead it would be music and poetry and love-making every day. We would not go hungry because our souls would be so full that every life-giving chore would be imbued with the glee of being alive. And when the day came for us to surrender our lives, we would go full and sated and grateful into the far beyond having had our fill.