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Marie Lenéru: War is not human fate


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Women writers on peace and war


Marie Lenéru
From Peace (1918)
Translated by Claire Tylee


Everything…give everything…use up all your energy…live only for that…have no body, have no soul except for that…so that one more time at least if the horror must fall upon the world it should be in spite of us, in the face of all our effort, in the ruin of all our hopes; a second time at least we should not be found indifferent, slumbering where we were living, under the protection of bullies.

Yes, that’s the worst. Before…Which of us was thinking of war? Which of us even knew that it existed, that it always threatened? Did our hearts flutter, did we feel a shiver? War…it was politics, “foreign affairs”…Nonsense! What was arousing our emotions? Our novels, our plays, always life, happiness more or less menaced by one person…We would write tragedy with only one man, and the great tragedy which operates through thousands and millions we would never think of. We would weep about the fate of one woman yet war existed. We would weep about just one shattered life…when everything there was could be left in utter ruin.

The fate of women. But like the fate of empires, it’s decided on the battlefield. They won’t catch me twice. I’ve sworn to remember and every hour of my life will be a fight against forgetting. Even if I must live a hundred years, I want to keep on until the end, bracing myself with the sense of horror, the convulsive protest that I rose up with on the day after that unspeakable vigil.

I didn’t tell you we were going to establish peace. I only told you we were going to do everything toward it…I only know that before hoping for anything at all on earth we have to have done with war.

[W]ar is atrocious, war is absurd, personally it horrifies everyone, but there is something we are even more frightened of than war, and that is to admit before everyone that there could be an end to the whole human race.

So, when the Guards, and when our armed fighting divisions marched against each other, singing their hymns, you drew the lesson, that “man is a wolf to other men” and that whatever one did one couldn’t stop the heroes from devouring each other? If war is unforgivable in those who let it loose, it’s because it is not human fate. There is no instinct in an animal that makes it walk towards cannon.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Alex. Illi
    September 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Yes, war is not human fate.

    On the contrary it has to be fueled relentlessly by inciting distrust, anger, alienation etc.. – “divide et impera” – and it needs those who let themselves be duped by this hitherto constant manipulation into believing that by war they could attain any sort of ‘solution’ – that by ‘annihilating” their perceived “enemies” the problems would go away. While they only make it worse by triggering the “an eye for an eye” death-spiral, instead of overcoming such weakness and starting to practice “turn the other cheek”.

    It will seem very hard and strange to do so at the beginning, but quite soon Peace and Love and Forgiveness will come to reign through the free wills of all as commonplace state of being.


  1. December 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm

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