Fine weapons of war augur evil.
Even things seem to hate them.
Therefore, a man of Tao does not set his heart upon them.
In ordinary life, a gentleman regards the left side as the place of honour:
In war, the right side is the place of honour.
As weapons are instruments of evil,
They are not properly a gentleman’s instruments;
Only on necessity will he resort to them.
For peace and quiet are dearest to his heart,
And to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing.
To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over the slaughter of men!
Hence a man who rejoices over the slaughter of men cannot expect to thrive in the world of men.
On happy occasions the left side is preferred:
On sad occasions the right side.
In the army, the Lieutenant Commander stands on the left,
While the Commander-in-Chief stands on the right.
This means that war is treated on a par with a funeral service.
Because many people have been killed, it is only right that survivors should mourn for them.
Hence, even a victory is a funeral.
Although this text was written in the 4th century BC, it is sadly relevant today. When I see the news, I am frequently dismayed by the obsession world leaders still have with weapons. The percentage of the federal budget that is used to build “fine weapons of war” is staggering. And every time we use them, we “rejoice over the slaughter of men.”
I do hope that one day we will evolve and reach the point where we can hammer our swords into plowshares. We’re definitely not there yet, but someday.