Connecting War and Peace to the human life.
Throughout all the story of War and Peace he searched – in gambling, drinking, and carousing, in marriage to a beautiful woman, in Freemasonry, in the military, in a personal mission to assassinate Napoleon, Pierre looked for his purpose in life.
As the invading Napoleon approached Moscow and the inhabitants who had the means left the city, Pierre stayed behind with a mad plot to assassinate the great French general. This would be his great act, his reason for being born that he had searched so long to find.
But his destiny was otherwise. While trying to rescue the young daughter of a poor family from one of the fires raging across the city after Napoleon entered with his army, French soldiers arrested him for arson. Astonishingly the officer who was to sentence him to death along with all the arrested arsonists, did not. Pierre and he had made a small human connection which stayed the officer.
Pierre watched the French firing squad shoot down all the other supposed arsonists, aware of the closeness of his own death, and was then kept as a captive, suffering and deprived until he was rescued by Russian soldiers driving the French out of Moscow.
After his rescue and restoration he was reunited with an old friend, Natasha who had also suffered and grown from being a frivolous girl interested only in ribbons, and gowns, and dances. They fell in love. Pierre spent much of his money helping to restore Moscow, and “in that period of time all people appeared to him in such a bright light of the feeling shining within him, that without the least effort, meeting any person whatsoever, he at once saw in him all that was good and worthy of love.” (Vol. IV, Part Four, Chap. XIX)
Free now, surviving a failed marriage, surviving a death sentence for arson under Napoleon’s French army at their invasion of Moscow, surviving harsh captivity until his rescue by the Russian army, free now, Pierre Bézukov found the end of his search for the intellectual or ideological belief that could define the meaning of his life. Simply love.
Not just the love of strawberries and ice cream. Not just the love coming from the friendship he had with his friends and comrades in arms. And not just the romantic love from and for a woman. But a love beyond these natural loves, a love nearly impossible without the inspiration and enablement of one’s source of spiritual life.
If people in Moscow saw him forgiving others who had hurt him or giving much of his wealth to help others and called him insane, the truth was that “Pierre’s insanity consisted in the fact that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people’s merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and, loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them.” (Vol. IV, Part Four, Chap. XIX)