Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Arrogance of Killing

Written on the 29th of May, 2010

I was reflecting today on the reasons why people feel they have a right to take another life. Seeing all the death and murder on the news in our times, and really since the earliest times, has lead me to question and analyze the motives and dynamics behind such a cruel and irreversible act. I realize it’s not common to ask or write about such a controversial topic but I think we should, as a society, investigate the question: “why do people kill?” not just for the obvious value of the prevention of senseless death and the preservation of life, but also for justice to the dead victims of this crime against life. We talk hours on end about trivial things that don’t matter all that much yet we don’t seriously ask and challenge the questions and notions that really affect and impact our society. So I’m asking the question, why do murderers think its OK to take another life?

In my usual manner, I first look at the spiritual forces at work whenever I take to analyze any question. In my opinion, a person has to have a set of traits and qualities that precondition him/her to accept what they perceive to be their justification for their crime. They are likely: (1.) Disenfranchised, (2.) Angry/Bitter/Resentful, (3.) Feel they’ve been wronged, (4.) Full of egotistical pride, (5.) Anti-social (6.) Believe in restoring power through violence, (7.) Believe ends justify means. In a nutshell, they perceive a sense of cosmic betrayal; whether it be by a god or society or an identity group of which they are a member, they feel rejected somehow by the ‘other(s)’ category. The perceived rejection itself is based on several factors, whether or not the person was mal-adjusted (culturally, economically, etc.,) psychologically/emotionally unstable, or anti-social with the larger society which would make it actual rejection (or in the case where it’s perceived it would then lead to the angry, anti-social, and detached views.) It is this betrayal they perceive that forms their opinion of justice and their view of feeling wronged by the ‘other(s)’ and in order to correct this unjust chaotic system, some radical means (i.e- violence) are taken to justify a ‘noble’ end of restoring proper justice and order in their warped world-view. The final piece is the egotistical pride they develop as a defense mechanism to protect their fragile egos against the dread of mass-rejection by the larger society, perceived or real. The inflated ego also protects the fragile mind by justifying horrendous actions that take away from others and give to self. These elements combined comprise the seven characteristics (more or less) that influence a mal-adjusted, resentful, power-hungry person to become dangerous because they will seek to reclaim that loss of power and correct their sense of injustice. 

Examining this from another angle, we need only look at our treatment of other life forms which we regard as less important than our own. It’s a speciesist attitude that measures our lesser life comforts greater than the quality of life and existence of another sentient being. Take for example, the common view of household bugs and rodents as pests. It’s fine to be upset by the unwelcomed presence of another life form in your dwellings, but unless there is a mutual threat of mortality to both parties, we are automatically then placing less urgent desires (than the desire to safeguard our life [as in the case of an armed burglar]) over the value of another creature’s existence, and find that as a justification to take its life – something that it can never get back nor ever be replaced. And this is quite common, a number of household products have been developed to make it all the more convenient, but let’s not fool ourselves, it is the taking of another life; it is an act of murder.

So when we kill a bug because we think it might bite us, are we justified? When we think it might tear holes in our clothes, are we justified then? When we think its just annoying to look at, or that it will reproduce, is this our justification for killing? What gives one finite, sentient being the right to take away the one life of another finite, sentient being? If we look at it objectively, we see that 9 times out of 10, there is no serious jeopardy to our life by the presence of these unwelcomed critters, and that since its no longer a question of “my life or your life,” it then becomes an issue of “your life or my comfort;” quite egotistical, no? Now let’s say it’s not just two or three bugs but an entire swarm that has taken over your room. Now you have no access to your bedroom, soon they take over your house. Now you’re an outcast, what do you do? (A.) Accept it and move away? (B.) Fight back? Or (C.) Murder your way back into your room? Most people would have already called the fumigators before reaching the point of becoming refugees, so it looks like the answer, for most people, is (C.) Huh, look at all you senseless murderers!

Now let’s suppose those bugs did take over your house, you’re now rejected, powerless, and feel wronged. You’re angry and egotistical, you just KNOW that its YOUR home and YOUR right to have it back, no matter the means to obtain it. You just KNOW that they’re stupid bugs and don’t mean anything to anyone or have any real value compared to your own life. You want your place back and you have the power to overcome these insect-invaders and you will use violence to achieve that end. So you decide to kill them all and regain your house and room. Congratulations, you are a murderer. Just with this analogy alone we’ve demonstrated most of those seven attributes that compel people to murder insects, so the question is, can it apply to humans too? It sure does.

In many cases of murder, there is no mutual threat of mortality where both parties equally face death if they don’t remove the cause first. In that case, there is one clear victim and one clear perpetrator and the perpetrator has judged his/her own life quality to be greater than the life in totality of the other sentient being. There can be any number of excuses (or what they would call justification) to rationalize their murderous act. But the truth of it is, their own life was not in danger, they only killed the other life-form because it either didn’t suite their interests to have them live, or their existence caused them some pain or discomfort or other type of unpleasant experience, or their death would result in some self-serving benefit, and so they judged these lesser things to be greater than the value of life itself. Once the life is taken, it can never come back, nor will a new life replace a lost life for in truth, that unique body, and that unique collected experience – that unique soul – is forever departed.

It needs to be asked then, what has lead people to believe other life-forms to be dispensable? For starters, I think it stems from a reckless and irresponsible view of life itself. Most people do not put much thought into the act of bringing a new life into this world, not nearly as much as they would have to think about taking one out of it. In other words, just as a murderer doesn’t consciously think about the many consequences of his murderous crime, most people do not consciously think about the consequences of bringing a life into existence. Most people place other personal reasons for having a child above the very child’s life itself. Whether it has to do with them wanting to have a child or wanting some help or company or needing someone to care for them in old age, life is not celebrated for its own reasons but to serve the quality of another life – isn’t this reckless attitude the same as a murderer’s? There are also those who have babies to compete, exploit, or seek some other gain in society. The use [and abuse] of life for the improvement of the quality of another existant, this is a masked version of the same “your life or my comfort” scenario discussed earlier isn’t it? Then you have those who have already decided what their children must be before they are born. “I will have a son who will be a doctor, a daughter who will be a singer.” The formula is: “I will create you IF you please me and do what I say” It’s the same thought of a murderer: “I will kill you IF you don’t please me and don’t do what I say.” And then there are those who are annoyed or angry with the creation of a fetus after having had their carnal pleasures and rather wish to destroy the baby fetus (i.e- abortion,) sometimes for the sole purpose of removing the evidence that they had sex, isn’t this like murdering a witness to a crime? These are just some illustrations conveying the idea that murder and accidental birth are connected by a reckless and dispensable view of life. If murder requires calculation and consideration to dissuade life’s taking, so too must the conception of life require calculation and consideration to persuade its creation.

If we intend to be serious about reducing murders in our societies we should also be serious about reducing unplanned offspring (not by aborting, unless there was rape involved) but by controlling our desires and placing the importance of life in its own category and not for the lesser pleasures of another human life. No life should be seen as an expense to improve the quality of another, but rather that the quality of that life itself spreads quality into one’s own. People should have children for the right reasons; to bring new life into society and contribute to the richness and diversity of society, just as people should not kill others for the fact that it takes away from the quality of life itself, and we all only have one life to live. In that oneness, we all share. It then becomes imperative for us to respect the autonomy of each life and resist the tendency on all levels to abuse the life of another for the pleasure and comfort of one’s own.

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