May 28th, 2018
A unique take on the often present conflict between public and private, the spoken and unspoken, views on a topic held by individuals is found in the posthumously published works of Mark Twain.
On this Memorial Day in the U.S. we are supposed to reflect on our war dead. The favored public view is to enoble war. But war is messy. Death is ugly. Sadly too many of us may be thinking in our hearts that our “enemies” deserve only death, and not noble endings as do our sons and daughters. Enemies are considered “animals,” sub-humans.
On Memorial Day 2018, we endure the embarrassing acts of a narcissistic president who cannot seem to temporarily shift his focus from self to the selfless volunteers of our military who were killed for their fateful decisions. As he tweeted …
Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18 years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
Narcissism aside, we are an aggressive people. Mark Twain captured the vicious aspect of our nature in 1905 as America was beginning its ambitious rise to empire following the Spanish-American war.
The War Prayer
You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words ‘Grant us the victory [in war], O Lord our God!‘ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
“Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.”