Day one of my hunger strike in aid of calling for mercy for the disabled from our government.
Start weight 212.00 lbs.
Hope you are all well and if not well, at least standing up to whatever ails you with all the courage you can muster. Please, read on.
Napoleon was riding at the head of his army one day when the bridle on his horse was suddenly caught by a woman.
"Sir, she cried, I beg of you. Let me speak and be patient to hear me!"
"I will hear you. Speak on." Napoleon said to her.
"Sir, the crying women began, my husband is condemned to die. I beg of you, have mercy on him and set him free. He is all that I and my children have left in this world. Your war destroyed our farm, our home and all of our belongings. I have lost four brothers who died serving you and our country. Two of my children died in the fire that took our house. It is enough! Sir, it is within your power, please, give me back my husband!"
Napoleon gazed down at the woman from his saddle above her. Behind him the whole army had halted, waiting for him to move on and he was anxious to do so.
"Woman, he said, finally, what is it your husband is accused of?"
The woman lifted her tear stained face and looked up at him.
"Sire. He is accused of treason" she said. She was trembling now. Deeply aware of the enormity of her husband's crime against the very man she was appealing too.
A look of impatient fury crossed Napoleon's face.
"Treason? Treason! Your husband plotted against me? Against France!"
"Oh sire, the woman cried, my husband was beside himself with grief. He had lost everything he had worked for. So many that he had loved. When your soldiers took our cattle to feed upon he was in a rage of anguish. It was then that he spoke in anger against you. How could he feed his surviving children and me if your army took all the food that we had? He had spoken within that rage against both you and France, but it was only his despair that cried against you. Not his heart. He has ever been loyal to France and to you, sire."
Napoleon glared down at the woman. "Let justice take its course." He said, contemptuously, and dug his spurs into the horse's flanks. The horse lunged forwards, but the crying woman kept her grip upon the bridle and prevented it. All around her, soldiers raised their guns and aimed at her but she held the bridle fast and would not let go.
"Sir, please. Grant me my petition." She begged.
"I grant you justice!" Cried Napoleon."Your husband must die. It is the law. It is what justice demands. Would you have me deny justice her rewards to save a man who spoke treason against his country and his emperor?"
Still the woman clung to his bridle.
She looked up at him. Her dirty face streaked with rivers of tears. Her body trembling in fear. She was pale. Her clothes filthy. Then, suddenly, a new courage gripped her. She pulled herself upright. Released the bridle and stared Napoleon in the eye. When she began to speak her voice was strong. Resolute.
"It is the mark of greatness upon a man that he is not only a leader who is ruthless, cunning, wise and strong; but that he carries within his heart grace and love for those who give all to follow him and support his endeavours on the fields of battle. A grace and love that runs deep within his heart, as a river runs through a gorge.
For what is a man who has neither grace or love? He is a brute! A beast! A cur, that by an accident of history has risen to be a leader. Such a man is not great, but low. Such a man is not a lion, but a wolf. Such a man is not an eagle, but common carrion!"
She stared hard into Napoleon's eyes as nervous soldiers fingers tightened on the triggers of their guns and their eyes watched closely for any physical threat this woman may pose to their emperor. Yet, even so, they has respect for this woman. She alone had halted Napoleon and his army. A feat no other had yet achieved in Europe. Though frightened and frail, she had stood up to the most feared man on the continent. Now, she lectured that man on leadership and greatness. She had rebuked him in public and, from her new proud and courageous bearing, it was clear that she was not afraid to die for her words.
She spoke again. Her words strong and clear and loud.
"Justice? She cried. Her voice unwavering and stern. I did not ask you for justice. I asked you for mercy. Justice comes from a vengeful heart. Mercy, from a heart of love. All of France knows you carry justice in your heart; but France looks on to see if you have mercy there also "
Her words had cut deeply into Napoleon's heart. He glanced over at the general beside him who carried in his hand the bronze Aigle de drapeau, the French Imperial Eagle. The symbol of the greatness of France, her empire and her leader. As he looked upon that symbol, her words rang again in his heart.
'Such a man is not great, but low. Such a man is not a lion, but a wolf. Such a man is not an eagle, but common carrion!'
He made his decision quickly and kicked his horse forward into a walk. When he was ten paces ahead of the woman, he turned to face her again. She stood now in the road between him and his army.
Napoleon raised his voice so all close to him could hear.
"I have in my heart a great love for France, as all of you who march with me also do. We love her so dearly and so completely that we are willing to leave our blood in her fields to bring her honour and glory. You men follow me because you see in me that love for France and for her people. When I lead you into battle or march at the head of this great army then I am France and France is me."
He paused and walked his horse until its head was level with the women standing there in the middle of the road and looking so defiantly up at him. He studied her for a moment before continuing.
"France is strong. France is proud. France is glorious..., but France is no cur, no wolf and no carrion. France demands justice, yes! But France must also love her people enough to extend the hand of mercy to those she wounds."
He paused again and looked down at the woman. He smiled at her and raised his head again to address the men before him.
"I decree that this woman shall be given a home and fertile land for the upkeep of her family. What France has taken, let France renew! I further decree that her husband shall receive twenty lashes for the crime of treason, that his life shall be spared and he shall be given his freedom. In this way, both justice and mercy shall be satisfied."
The soldiers before him lowered their guns and their faces split into broad smiles before they split the air with a mighty roar and cheer and threw their caps high above their heads.
Napoleon bent in the saddle and caught the woman's arm. He pulled her to him and kissed both of her cheeks.
"Go! He said, softly to her. Go and get your husband and tell him his emperor also sacrifices all for his country and loses, every day, many of his children to the enemies of France. Though their spilt blood breaks my heart and fury burns within me; and though their hunger also grieves me, yet I am loyal. Tell your husband that is all that France requires of him."
The woman kissed his hands and then moved to the side of the road. Napoleon wheeled his horse and the army marched on. Beside him, the general held high the Aigle de drapeau. Behind him the cheering soldiers and the weeping grateful women cried as one, "Vive la France! Vive la France!"
Today we begin another 40 day protest together. The aim is simple; we seek to discover if our leaders are cur, wolves and carrion or great, lions, and eagles. Their own actions from this day forwards will determine what they are and how our history will remember them.
Fight with me and together we shall seek both justice AND mercy for those who cannot fight for themselves.