There is a heinousness to killing others that, I would argue, every human being knows. That heinousness lies not so much in the ueber-altrusitic protestations of church or state as it does in the heart of the perpetrator. There is nothing smarmy about it. It is the simple knowledge within ... I KNOW THAT THIS WOUNDS AND REDUCES ... ME.
The extent and impact of this knowing can be seen in the gyrations and rationalizations brought to bear when it comes to making killing socially acceptable. "An eye for an eye" is portrayed as somehow fitting and just. Or keeping a sanitized distance from killing may seem to make it somehow more acceptable ... as pointed out in the U.S. military's increasing reliance on drones to seek out and destroy the enemy du jour. Drones mean less danger and less responsibility and less wounding of the good guys ... namely us. It is hard to rationalize the delight and profit that comes with a war in which sons and daughters are not only killed and maimed but also forced to endure the instinctive despair that comes with killing others ... a despair buried beneath patriotism, failed diplomacies, and other self-serving maneuvers. Let's make war cheaper while not surrendering the satisfactions and profits ... drones ... as pointed out between the lines in The Washington Post this morning.
But the heinousness of killing becomes harder to avoid when the excuses and explanations fray. Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia tomorrow. He was accused and convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in 1989. But since that time, witnesses have recanted, flawed evidence has become more apparent and the execution takes on a truly grisly mantle ... the idea that a man who didn't do (or probably didn't do) something would be killed for having done it. What sort of society do we live in when the preponderance of evidence is overlooked because, well, someone's got to pay? In the face of such a situation, I cannot think of any reaction outside a scream.
And so there are drones -- the agents that will keep the killing of innocent and guilty alike at a distance and cloaked in a mantle of legitimacy. Every fiber may rebel and wretch at a personal level, but well... at least it wasn't me.
Only of course it was me. Me the executioner. Me the executed. And for what ... for a better opinion of myself? For an opinion that is shattered in the very act I maintain will enhance my decency and humanity and sense of justice? For at heart at ease where the heart purely rebels and vomits?
And of course it is easy to bemoan the taking of life when each of us values his own so dearly. But there are lesser executions to be considered as well. As for example a poll that finds young people unconcerned at the insults and slanders they may offer up on Internet venues like Facebook and Twitter. It's just a joke, the perpetrators tell themselves in disregard of the harm they may have caused with the careless insults ("slut" "fag" "nigger" etc.) they may have typed without a backward glance.
It is such a hard, hard lesson: No one can truly correct another. The best anyone can do is to vow within ... don't YOU do that! Why? Because to do so diminishes the very thing anyone might seek to enhance -- their own deepest, most decent and peaceful self.