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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
On KillingPosted Sunday, December 16, 2012, at 1:50 PM
I have been working on a humorous piece for Christmas. I guess it won't come out this year. Merry Christmas!
One of the most informative books I have ever read was called "On Killing," written by Lt. Col. David Grossman, Ph.D.
There was a problem. The U.S. Army came to realize that of all of the men they sent into war, approximately 50 percent never fired their weapon. Another 25 percent would intentionally fire over the heads of the enemy or fire without aiming. In an all out, life or death struggle, only 25 percent of trained soldiers would try to kill.
That is a real problem for an army. They needed to find out what was going on.
After an exhaustive historical study and examination of thousands of war veterans, Lt. Col. David Grossman concluded that the strongest taboo biologically programmed into humans is the taboo against killing another human being. It is stronger than the taboo against homosexuality, incest, ignoring a child in need, and all other malum in se crimes.
The answer for the army was to systematically break down the taboo against killing. A troop of 100 killers can overwhelm a force of 500 or more traditional soldiers as fear created by losses destroys morale and heightens the need to retreat.
If you want to see how the U.S. Military responded to this research, watch the first half of the movie "Full Metal Jacket." You will watch Gunnery Sgt. Hartman turn a bunch of draftees into killers as he explains that it is not the gun, but the hardened heart that kills.
The first modern machine gun, the "Maxim" was invented in 1884. The United States military still uses the Browning 1919 machine gun. In the 1920s, machine guns were marketed to ranchers and cowboys out west to fend off Mexican banditos, rustlers, and marauding Indians. There were no regulations on the sale, use, or possession of machine guns until 1934. Semi-automatic handguns, rifles, and shotguns have remained basically unregulated for 150 years.
While gangs of organized criminals have always used weapons of all types for evil purposes, what has changed? Why does there appear to be recurring incidents of lone individuals or small cliques of friends becoming mass murderers?
Among the potential answers, prominent among them must be the information found in 'On Killing." The taboo against killing another human being must be being broken down. The hearts of our young people must be hardening.
In representing juvenile defendants, my observations are that more and more these young people do not seem to connect consequences to their actions. Some seem detached from their conduct as though they were in a movie or video game. Others seem to have emotionally shut down, occasionally lashing out or "exploding."
How many of these children have parents who abuse drugs? How many have mothers who go from man to man, fathers who go from woman to woman? How many of these children have constructive discipline, which includes spankings? How many of these children are taught that how they feel, particularly how they feel about themselves is of great importance?
Is this what you see in a healthy society? It is not. It, however, is what you find universally in societies in decline.
Societies, which decline and vanish, always abandon morality first. Soon after they start preying on each other, fragment, and later are vanquished fragment by fragment.
The answers to this problem are obvious, very difficult, and will take a long time. There is no "band aid" solution. One more set of laws among the hundreds of thousands already in existence won't do it.
Simply put, we must return to God. If you don't like that, turn to the Roman stoics and ascetics. Their philosophy is a humanist parallel to Christianity. If you don't like that, look to the Platonic and Aristotelian Greeks. Try Buddha or Confucius. They all have far more in common than different.
If we do not, we will go the way that each of those cultures went.
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