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When he was born, you thought he was the most beautiful being on Earth, and as he grew, your heart only grew fonder. Sure, he teased his little brother and taught his sister how to smoke, but mostly he made the family feel richer. And when he joined the military, he looked wonderful in his uniform and talked of all he would do when his enlistment was done. He dreamed of being married and raising a family. You imagined a warm future with grandbabies hugging your knees.
Now he kills innocent people because his commanders ordered him. If your family follows faith, you worry about what murder does to his immortal soul. Will he be held responsible? Who else pulls the trigger? Aren’t there immoral commands? When he’s killed, can you feel pride in his sacrifice? Was he fighting to protect home and family? If not, what profit has he secured for your country…besides profit? If your husband goes to his neighbor and murders the entire family so your family can have the land, do you celebrate the accomplishment? Do you have a right because your grandfather once owned that land? Is the leader of a country excused for coveting?
If he manages to survive the war, who will the son (or daughter) be who returns home? In WWII, many German soldiers who had seen too much ended up committing suicide, falling prey to addiction and/or being hopelessly bedeviled by PTSD. There are nightmares that don’t go away. How do you make your blood neighbors and even relatives into an unknown enemy? Russian commanders simply lied. You know your son is committing atrocities, because that’s what happens in war, but what is he doing to himself?
Right now, in Russia, there’s a mothers’ group emotionally tortured by these very thoughts. I hurt for them. They, too, are victims as are the young soldiers who believed they were trained to defend the mother country, who believed they were patriots. I have grandsons idealistically joining our military, trusting that we’ll never have a leader who will send them into an immoral conflict. Perhaps a war against your own kind is a special kind of Hell and that’s why the United States is still bleeding from our Civil War, which had a strong economic as well as moral base.
The immorality of what we euphemistically called the Conflict in Vietnam finally pushed the American public to insist it stop. The Russians don’t have as many freedoms, but their leaders, like our own, ultimately lead by consent of the governed, as all leaders do. You cannot lead when no one will follow. However in the past year, we’ve seen how easily members of the populace can be manipulated. (What kind of moral poverty leads someone to mock a father’s grief?) When enough people and military leaders place themselves in the power of immoral leaders, immoral wars result. I send love to all the victims of this war, but today, I send special love to the mothers on both sides whose children will never truly return.
One of your most powerful pieces. Evocative and poignant. Thank you.
I hope you and yours are well – or at least as well as one can be in these disturbing times.
You (and all the mothers) are in my thoughts.