The horror in men’s eyes

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Were we forced to kill them,
or did we do it willingly?

Do you like to kill? Did you get off on Shock & Awe? Do you think killing 600,000 people in Libya was just about the right amount for a typical deployment of a No Fly Zone? Are you glad you practice a religion that urges you to murder folks who don’t think like you do? If you were a refugee, would you desire to kill those who tried to help you because their lives were so much easier than yours?

Have you taken the time to reflect on soldiers who come back home and kill themselves? Have you known any of them? And have you observed that wistful vacancy in their eyes reflecting regret beyond redemption, or noticed their unwillingness to talk about what happened to them, as their raw emotions fester and curdle inside them just before they explode?

How do you feel about a country in which men who are called “our best and brightest” kill themselves because of the crimes they are forced to commit? What kind of country is this? Is this a country at all?

Unlike those soldiers who commit suicide, most Americans are revolted by the thought that they are responsible for the untold millions of people who have been killed by their government for reasons that have never been fully or honestly explained. These forlorn souls simply sing the songs the politicians teach them and solemnly salute the flag that even today signifies death in just about every country in the world.

You might actually be one of these feckless drecks — untrustworthy in all situations —  who don’t give a damn about what your government is doing. Consequently you believe your indifference makes you immune from the guilt. After all, these terrible things are not your fault, you reason. There’s nothing I can do about it, you say, so I don’t worry about it.

People like this are not the type to notice their freedoms disappearing one by one, and surely haven’t figured out that their indifference has made all these erosions possible. I have no desire to meet the God they pray to.

Those who understand the visceral horror of war have a rattling recollection of the cries of the dying, and the hand, directly or not, they have had in those deaths, even if they never toted a gun or fired a shot in anger. And after many frustrating years watching the body counts go higher with each passing war, they know one other thing, too.

It is most unlikely that there will be a successful coalition to save the world from the predators. All the various plans to eradicate evil in the world and improve the morality of mankind are destined to blow away, just like the acrid smoke of a 16 millimeter gun firing at targets so far away you can’t see the bodies as they explode when the shell hits. You only know they’re dead for sure when you photograph the blood splattered terrain days later.

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