Weapons are tools of ill omen
Wielded by the ignorant.
If their use is unavoidable,
The wise act with restraint.
The greatest sorrow is to be a veteran,
Witness to the atrocities of humanity.
If you hold a real weapon in your hand, you will feel its character strongly. It begs to be used. It is fearsome. Its only purpose is death, and its power is not just in the material from which it is made but also from the intention of its makers.
It is regrettable that weapons must sometimes be used, but occasionally, survival demands it. The wise go forth with weapons only as a last resort. They never rejoice in the skill of weapons, nor do they glorify war.
When death, pain, and destruction are visited upon what you hold to be most sacred, the spiritual price is devastating. What hurts more than one’s own suffering is bearing witness to the suffering of others. The regret of seeing human beings at their worst and the sheer pain of not being able to help the victims can never be redeemed. If you go personally to war, you cross the line yourself. You sacrifice ideals for survival and the fury of killing. That alters you forever. That is why no one rushes to be a veteran. Think before you want to change so unalterably. The stakes are not merely one’s life, but one’s very humanity.
(From 365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, p. 179)