Have you ever talked with someone who has killed people? I accept that I have facilitated the death of bad guys and maybe civilians while I was in Iraq, but none were directly at my hand.
I saw the direct after affects of killing, the orgy of destruction after an IED hit, the quiet, lights out, of a sniper.
I've seen it, and smelt it, but never landed the final blow.
Last Thursday night in the University of California, D.C. class, I had the opportunity to sit and listen to Vietnam war veteran and acclaimed author Frederick Downs.
Part of the conversation was about killing.
Fred talked about killing the way you might talk about traffic. Whether it was artillery strikes he called in that inadvertently killed women and children or blowing away a combatant, Fred has made complete peace with his role in the Vietnam war. He says he has no demons and his hatred for the Vietnamese has disappeared.
Strangely this was a quick piece of the overall conversation.
Something about the way he talked about killing enemy or not, made us, the rest of the class, as indifferent as he was.
So off we went into the next part of the conversation.
My experience with this indifference to violence and killing has been further stimulated by the most recent commercials for the new gaming systems, Play Station 4 and X-Box One.
In the commercials you will see civilians carrying massive weapons through battle zones of complete destruction. In others you will see some guy at dinner bragging about the destruction he brought to bear in some video game. The thing that stands out to me about these commercials is the way they portray playing a video game as real life.
Killing and destruction
as a game
inside a game
as real life.
That will twist your mind, huh?
So games, no big deal: now enter drones.
Killing by video.
I don't have much of a lesson with this, more of a curiosity.
What renders someone indifferent to violence and killing? Fred's indifference seems to be a product of his acceptance of his role in the war. He mentioned how others can't deal with what they did in the war, but for him he is fine.
Video games are full of violence. Yet some drone pilots experience PTSD.
Some guys never experience serious violence in a combat zone and yet they are a mess.
Video, real life, a game, a video of real life,
all creating and causing different responses for different people.
I have no answer for how or why this is.
I think its strange.