“But what cruel thing is war…”

But what cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.

– General Stonewall Jackson, in a letter to his wife Mary Anna, on December 25, 1862

I like to think that Stonewall spoke not only of martial warfare, but of all things destructive and cruel in our world. He spoke of hatred both acted upon, and thought upon. He spoke of devastating the fair face of the world in open war and in quiet exploitation, in deed and in demeanor. He spoke of hatred of neighbor — both man, beast, and wild.

Men like Stonewall did things they wish they had never done. They destroyed that which was meant to live. But take heart, because he shows that there are men who have committed such acts, but did not carry them out in vain. The warning echoes against the walls of the future: we must follow the pleas of empathy and enlightenment, but  be cognizant of the errors of destruction and ignorance.

This place was not made for us to destroy, scar, and devastate. It was not made to breed hatred, anger, and death. In this place, we are meant to live eternally, as one cosmic being, forever in a dance with itself.

Image courtesy Library of Congress. “Antietam, Maryland. A lone grave.”