|I TOOK A SPECIAL WALK TO GET SOME PIX|
THESE ARE WHITE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
STRUNG ALONG A BANK OF BOUGAINVILLEA
Anyhoo, here's a perhaps little known fact: back in the olden days of war, people were way more reluctant to actually shoot at each other; in fact, only 15 to 20% of soldiers from the Civil War through WWII did.
Then the military strategists got on board.
Here are a couple of articles re the sophisticated psychological training developed by the U.S. military to break soldiers down and enable them to go against what I am glad to report is our natural instinct NOT to kill each other. The result being a sadly marked increase in the "kill ratio" (stomach-turning phrase) from WWII to now.
What's especially chilling is realizing that just about any of us kill would after undergoing such training, especially in light of the intensely violent and dangerous conditions of modern warfare. So this is not in any way to be anti-soldier. It is to be pro-, pro-, pro- the soldiers who we lie to, the soldiers we send off to wars that are nightmarish for them and have become spectator sports for us, the soldiers we purport to honor and who are largely shunted aside, stonewalled, warehoused, and forgotten when they come home.
One article is entitled "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society."
The other is called "Hope on the Battlefield."
From ""Hope on the Battlefield," by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman:
"Indeed, the study of killing by military scientists, historians, and psychologists gives us good reason to feel optimistic about human nature, for it reveals that almost all of us are overwhelmingly reluctant to kill a member of our own species, under just about any circumstance.
Yet this understanding has also propelled armies to develop sophisticated methods for overcoming our innate aversion to killing, and, as a result, we have seen a sharp increase in the magnitude and frequency of post-traumatic response among combat veterans. Because human beings are astonishingly resilient, most soldiers who return from war will be fine. But some will need help coping with memories of violence. When those soldiers return from war—especially an unpopular one like Iraq—society faces formidable moral and mental health challenges in caring for and re-integrating its veterans....
Since World War II, a new era has quietly dawned in modern warfare: an era of psychological warfare, conducted not upon the enemy, but upon one’s own troops. The triad of methods used to enable men to overcome their innate resistance to killing includes desensitization, classical and operant conditioning, and denial defense mechanisms.
Authors such as Gwynne Dyer and Richard Holmes have traced the development of bootcamp glorification of killing. They’ve found it was almost unheard of in World War I, rare in World War II, increasingly present in Korea, and thoroughly institutionalized in Vietnam. “The language used in [marine training camp] Parris Island to describe the joys of killing people,” writes Dyer, helps “desensitize [marines] to the suffering of an ‘enemy,’ and at the same time they are being indoctrinated in the most explicit fashion (as previous generations were not) with the notion that their purpose is not just to be brave or to fight well; it is to kill people.”
But desensitization by itself is probably not sufficient to overcome the average individual’s deep-seated resistance to killing. Indeed, this desensitization process is almost a smoke screen for conditioning, which is the most important aspect of modern training. Instead of lying prone on a grassy field calmly shooting at a bull’s-eye target, for example, the modern soldier spends many hours standing in a foxhole, with full combat equipment draped about his body. At periodic intervals one or two man-shaped targets will pop up in front of him, and the soldier must shoot the target.
In addition to traditional marksmanship, soldiers are learning to shoot reflexively and instantly, while mimicking the act of killing. In behavioral terms, the man shape popping up in the soldier’s field of fire is the “conditioned stimulus.” On special occasions, even more realistic and complex targets are used, many of them filled with red paint or catsup, which provide instant and positive reinforcement when the target is hit. In this and other training exercises, every aspect of killing on the battlefield is rehearsed, visualized, and conditioned.
By the time a soldier does kill in combat, he has rehearsed the process so many times that he is able to, at one level, deny to himself that he is actually killing another human being" [italics mine].
|DOWNTOWN L.A. IN DISTANCE|
Just as certain people will assure women seeking an abortion that abortion is empowering, abortion will nobly advance the cause of womanhood, abortion has no psychological, moral, or spiritual repercussions, so we tell our young men and women that killing "the enemy" will have no effect on them.
Just as we de-humanize the enemy, reduce him or her to less than a human being, so we de-humanize the child who has not yet been born. Just as with war, we convince ourselves that the surgical strike is actually compassionate. A drone strike is like an abortion: you close your eyes. You don't have to see what you are doing. We're minimizing the damage, we tell ourselves. We're eliminating one or a few in favor of the many. I wonder how the one or the few would feel about that if we asked them. I wonder how compassionate it can ever be to ask other people to kill, or to die, so that we can live.
I think violence is like a virus. I don't think you can perpetrate the kind of absolute evil described in that article and confine it to the soldiers who are subjected to reflexive-kill training. We are one Mystical Body and the very fact that our government promotes that kind of violence and that we taxpayers and citizens pay for and thus implicitly support it has a ghastly corrupting effect on all of us.
So while our natural instinct is not to kill, more and more civilians, as well as the soldiers who are trained to kill, WANT to use violence. Our default mode isn't "Let's not use violence except as an absolute last resort"; it's "We want to use violence, as much and as horrific as possible. We're itching to use violence, we're looking for ways to use violence, we're dying to dominate, crush, show 'them' who's boss"...
More returning soldiers now die from suicide than they do in active combat.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us.