This is just something I wrote a few years ago about an experience I had as a Boy Scout that had a real impact on me. I know the phrasing is sort of immature, but I dont' want to tarnish it by revising it. Obviously, it's literally about my experience over several years of summer camp, but I think analogies can be drawn...
The Day of the Frog
Recently, a friend told me that she wished an end to war.
I agreed it was an admirable goal, but inwardly fancied her a dreamer;
Who could end war?
Could humankind tame the desire to take another for oneself, to break a person's will and leave them a captive?
To be sure, some have overcome this desire, but it seemed to be by coincidence alone;
To my despair, I was unable to tell my friend of any way that all might lose the thirst for domination.
Today, though, it is different. My mind reaches back two years, to the summer camp when I was sixteen, to the Day of the Frog.
When I was younger, I had envied the older ones, as all children do.
Choose a weapon of strong sun-bleached wood, about a yard long. It may be wielded easily, but will not break and will strike a stunning blow. When seeking dominance, the right attack is vital.
They had things that I did not, not just inanimate possessions but frogs, submissive pets whom they had made their own and taught to be happy as subjects.
I asked them how I might capture such a beast.
They taught me their path.
Strip it of bark, except what you will grasp. A thing, or a person, is most suited for war when the living part is gone, leaving only enough to obey.
Walk out on the fallen tree to seek the prey near the middle of the marsh. War is best waged by attacking the enemy's home.
Stand to place him between you and the sun - he will see no shadow, but you will see him in the light on the water.
Strike only when the doomed one is in open water; a terrestrial attack invites breaking the back against the ground; you aim to tame, not to kill.
Soften the blow just before it hits - the victim will not run, but will live to be conquered.
Strike him between the eyes, at the high point of the skull;
He will be pushed down, then rise limp.
Many times the subdued one will be out of reach; bring him in with the weapon that just struck.
When a creature's brain is addled, it cannot distinguish that which hurts from that which brings help.
By following my elders, I learned the practical arts of subjugation. After practicing in all my idle hours the first year, I became able to strike down one flower of a dandelion while leaving its neighbors unharmed.
I once fell from the logs, ruining a favorite pair of shoes. Soldiers may be wounded. The wounds did not stop me.
Once, my father admonished me to cease my war. Cease I did, for a time, but I used my acute eyes and mind to seek the house-shaped heads above the water, and gave them over to other warriors. Hate may be banned, or its many forms whittled away into few. The ban did not stop me.
When I went out to hunt, I tried to stun, but too often I killed. I was disappointed, but warriors are killers, and the killing did not stop me.
Often, the insects of the marsh attacked me until I looked like a leopard. Warriors can bear pain, and the pain did not stop me.
What, in the end, stopped me?
In answer, my mind leaps forward to the Day of the Frog.
It started like any other day of the war. I chose my weapon from the pile near the marsh, and broke it to length, stripping away all that had once been alive.
Cautiously I ventured onto the largest of the fallen trees; from there, I stepped to another, until I saw a victim beneath a log, out of reach for the moment.
I froze, ever so slowly shifting my right hand and bringing the weapon out of his view. My other hand joined it, and together they rose until they were poised above my head.
I became a sculpture of tension and patience, waiting to subdue the free creature should he be so foolish as to venture forth.
The innocent one sought the open, and I sprang, aiming for the peak of his skull, hoping for an easy capture.
I did not hear the unmistakable popping sound of a clean hit on the braincase, and assumed that my prey had eluded me at the last second; I counted three and he did not resurface, which I had never seen before.
At last, he drifted into view, and I saw that he was not limp, but shaking convulsively.
I ignored this.
Having brought in my prey, I went to take him home.
I stroked him on the stomach to keep him from struggling, but noted he had no real tendancy to do so.
At last, back at the camp, I looked my prey eye to eye, and nearly vomited.
One of his eyes was burst open. It filled almost to match its mate for a second, and then shriveled into the ruined thing it was as my captive's heart let lapse the struggle to save the rent organ.
The endless pulsing physically disgusted me, to be sure, but what was a million times worse was knowing that I had bought a lifetime of suffering for a fellow creature. I freed him in his native swamp, snapped my weapon in twain and left it in a pile to be burned.
I can never repay the Frog what I took from him, and for months afterward I wondered whether he had starved, unable to feed himself, or had lived out a life that was as pleasant as my realistic side could lead me to expect. All I could do was live my own life without further warfare.
Perhaps all who strike at others, with words and images as well as with blows,
Would do well to look into the wasted eye of their Frog.