Normally I don't like to write about world events or politics here, but this story in Saturday's paper caused such a reaction in me I can't get it out of my mind. I was aghast at the behavior of the American Marines who entered the homes of three families and shot them dead. These were old men, women, and children. One was a baby whose mother was trying to shield him. The soldiers killed them both. This was all in retribution for the death of their fellow Marine who had just been killed in a bombing of their Humvee as it traveled along a road nearby. These men went into the nearest house with guns firing. When they had killed everyone there, they moved to the next house, and then another.
I have spoken to a few people about the event, and I am nearly as aghast at their reaction as I was at the event itself. "It happens all the time," they say. "Poor boys. Killing those people will haunt them all their lives." "Twenty-year-olds aren't able to control their emotions under such stressful conditions."
Well, the fact that it "happens all the time" is unforgiveable. Those soldiers should get the death penalty for what they did. They are murderers. In the name of war, we are understanding of people who shoot babies at point blank? We explain it away because the murderers were under stress? I remember a friend of Pete, an old boyfriend of mine, came back from Viet Nam and talked about how he and his buddies liked to lure children out of their houses with candy bars and transister radios and then shoot them. It was their off-duty recreation. He described it with such humor and pleasure it made me sick.
It seems to me that not many other animals kill for pleasure, or revenge for that matter. Human beings are capable of the worst possible behavior while other human beings at worst support them, at best excuse them. "War is Hell" they cry, while waving the flag and spitting at the name of the enemy of the day. The brains that make homo sapiens what they are allow them to make rules to govern themselves based on respect and consideration for others. Then as a group we ignore those rules whenever we feel it is justifiable, and are forgiven. We understand. We make allowances. What a flawed species we are to have the power of intellect without the ability to use it to the advantage of the planet.
It is unforgiveable that we think so little of others and expect so little of ourselves.