• The Low Down

Send missiles into fields, not families

Open letter to Russian military personnel in Ukraine


Dear Brothers,


From our home in Québec, Canada, 7,000 kilometres from the horrors you are experiencing, my wife and I have shed tears of grief over the suffering and loss of life this war has brought. We know that everyone in Ukraine has already been scarred by this tragedy, regardless of their status, and that far too many people are today experiencing the deepest anguish of their lives. We pray, several times each day since the invasion, for the innocent victims of combat, and for those now huddled in terror, fearful for their lives and the lives of their children. To the cold, the hungry, and the injured, we send prayers for strength and comfort. Although many scoff at prayer as being wishful thinking, we both feel that a sincere and shared invocation of the Divine has power. Not power to hurt others or win battles, but to heal minds and souls. And sometimes, bodies too.


It's important for you to know that we pray for you as well. We realize you did not cause this war. It is likely that you see the enormity of the crimes you have been ordered to commit, and are caught between what you know is right and what you are compelled to do under threat of death. We recognize that most of you are young, having been drafted into service and that you are cold, hungry, and rightfully scared.

Just as we pray for the Ukrainians, we pray that you, members of the Russian armed forces, return home to your families with as little cost to your souls and bodies as possible. We hope that you find a means to salvation during your leader’s senseless war, that you shoot at stones, not homes, and launch your missiles on fields rather than families. We will continue to send prayers of peace, even after playgrounds are once again safe and the skies quiet.


And for the very small number of you whose self-hatred knows no bounds and whose divine light has guttered so low that you believe it extinguished; for you commanders who send rockets to clinics and schools, and you mercenaries who for cash would rob the earth of sons, fathers, sisters and mothers, we pray fervently. No one is more damaged and in need of healing.


If any of you in the Russian military read this, no doubt it will be a long time from now. I hope, my brothers, that you can look back amidst your dark recollections and find at least one moment when an angel offered you comfort.


With love,

Paul Hetzler and

Marie-Line Bourdy


The idea for this came to Marie-Line after meditation one day, and I wrote the text. We both do what we can in a concrete way, like donating to aid agencies, of course; let’s be clear that prayer and action go together.