Saintly Thoughts

Fighting the Long Retreat

The battle is lost.  That should surprise no one, for the battle was lost before it even began.  In fact,that the conflict descended to the state where the metaphor of a battle was even apt meant that our side had already lost.  That was inevitable.  Of the war, well, that is a different thing.  The war might yet be won even though all battles are lost, for the war depends not on the outcome of battles but on the strength of the enemy's resolve.  Our enemy has never been particularly resolute, standing upon nothing for nothing, and thus just as our battles were lost before they ever began, just so he lost the war before it was even declared.  And so, what is the duty of the soldier of a defeated column, who yet knows that his captain's forces lie elsewhere mobilized?  Why, to retreat until he might rejoin the larger company, of course.  It is not his right to surrender, not his goal to fight to the death without need, not his desire to lay down and weep at his defeat.  His duty is to fight until he might rejoin his captain.  And so, what might the nature of this retreat be? By what means might he reform and reassert his purpose against the inevitable collapse of his planned projects?  Its forms are as infinite as the stars, for the terrain of each battle is different and the safe course back to the captain is unique each time.  The soldier must learn to tell the difference between surrender and retreat, and to avoid (so long as is possible) being maneuveured into an ambush.