Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Killing

I am a the sense that I have killed other human beings or caused their death by my actions. Before you run to the cops I did these things during a time of war, so you won't see my mugshot anywhere. The other day I posted this video with an accompanying smartass remark.

Someone very close to me commented that this was a callous depiction of the taking of a human life and felt it was inappropriate. I answered back that I felt it was totally appropriate as the insurgent was trying to kill them. Essentially my defense was " he started it." Her comments did cause me to think however. Why did I react this way? Why did this video not affect me the way it affected her?

LTC Dave Grossman in his seminal book "On Killing" postulated that killing another human being is excruciating for a normal person. So excruciating that many soldiers in combat will intentional miss their targets while actively engaging the enemy. LTC Grossman also said to overcome the guilt of taking another human life many individuals will dehumanize the enemy. While there are many that dispute his conclusions, his explanation does provide a framework to explain my own reactions.

I have been conditioned from my late teens to think of an adversary, any adversary as subhuman. When I went to basic training the drill sergeants regularly referred to us as "Killer." The process continued throughout my military career until it reached its pinnacle during my stint in Special Forces. Violence of action is still the way I deal with most situations. Overwhelming firepower and aggressive offensive action, action intended to overwhelm the opposition, is now as much a part of my personality as my love of pizza. 

I do value human life, I am pro life and truly feel that every human life is precious. However those that would attack me or attack those I love are not in that category. They had a choice, a choice to leave me in peace. If they chose to follow the path that intersects with my aggression, they will reap what they sow. I carry a weapon for personal defense on a regular basis. I would not hesitate to use it to defend myself or others. And I would keep "defending" myself until the threat was eliminated. This is not to say that I look for trouble, just that I would not hesitate.

So am I right or wrong? Who is to say? As Popeye said " I yam what I yam and that it all that I yam." Society needs people like me, however those of us that are likeminded will never be understood by the majority of society. I leave you with a quote from LTC Grossman

"If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed."


  1. Extremely interesting perspective. Not sure what I think of it except that you are probably more right than wrong -- and I am now wondering what conditioning ... is present outside of the war experience.

  2. You cannot just ascribe it to the war experience. I was this way before and after

  3. Well I get this .. You stated it so well .. Mike be happy you live in a state that allows you to be armed . I am in one that is so the other way... more sheep and wolves here..