Initially I had planned to comment on the need to take a break from technology every once in a while, unplugging from the world. However, I’m going to hold off on that for tomorrow because of something I saw on the news this morning.
A later post had already been planned with a focus on valuing life, not so much as a focus on one’s self but on life in general. This morning I caught the following news article ‘German News Organization Runs Photos of US Soldiers with Afghan Corpse despite Limited Access.’ This is actually old news as it happened last year and the court-martial has been ongoing for a little while with periodic updates making the news. The impact though really hit hard when the Today show actually showed the photos this morning.
First off, really? Was it really necessary to show the photos? It’s horrible, no doubt, and seeing the pictures definitely makes it more “real” but imagine if you’re a child just about to leave for school and these images pop up on the screen. Oh sure, they selectively covered the dead man’s face with a black censor line, but the sight of a soldier posing with the dead man’s head held lifted by the hair in the same proud pose I’ve seen from deer hunters is sickening.
I understand that soldiers are under enormous strain, the extent of which I can’t even imagine. But when does life become so insignificant? When is that line crossed?
Soldiers are trained to remove themselves from the situation and after a while they are numbed by what they’ve seen. I understand that viewing enemies as humans likely makes it more difficult to react quickly in a situation. But is that a fully bad thing? Shouldn’t that be part of it? Seeing others as human beings is what separates us from animals, even in the worst of situations. How is what these guys did any different from the slaughtering that occurred at various times throughout history – during slavery, the massacre of native americans, WWII? In all cases, the value of human life was twisted into two categories of human beings. Those being killed were seen as lesser, insignificant, and many times as inhuman. Just like the poor civilians in the photos today.
To close, a quote borrowed from one of the best stand-ups ever to grace the stage.
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity” ~ George Carlin