What It Means To War.

(For the four Afghan women training in America to become the first women pilots for the Afghanistan Air Force)

Women war differently. We do not disease the children. We do not take the pregnant as prisoners. We do not infest blankets with bacteria before extending them to shivering indigenous citizens, as we prepare to steal their land. Our theft is of hearts, not hearths. We do not lop the hands that feed us, nor do we leave our rifle casings where the babies will mistake them for candy. We do not rape the journalists. Our wars are waged with wisdom. We are not recklessly retaliatory.

We wait.

I mean this, daughter, as double entendre. That is to say: we serve, with our tavern skirts sheathing our daggers, and we sit, with impatient expectation, until the men are weary enough, under the caress of our arrow-launching fingers, to yield.

We gather their secrets. We accept their slow and eventual admission to their boys’ clubs, their ballot boxes, their military. We tell them we love them, when they come to us convinced they have lost their right to anyone’s affection. They are right, but we are not lying: we love them.

This, by far, is our greatest ammunition. We understand, in ways that they don’t, that war–the way they wage it–is quick to dehumanize. We understand that when we cease to see their faces, their fear, their defiance, their patriotism, their own tenuous ability to love, we forfeit those very traits in ourselves.

Our war is not against the courage of our opponents’ convictions. It is against becoming shells.

You will never become the husk of the self you shed, if you remember how deeply and powerfully you can love.

2 responses to “What It Means To War.”

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