Yesterday I learned that some of the youngsters we have over in Afghanistan “defending our freedom” have been enjoying themselves after school, so to speak, playing outside with their friends. The game? Well, they have been hunting you might say. And what they have been hunting, specifically is the folks who live in Afghanistan. They even took trophy pictures of their kills. And, they took some actual trophies, at least once cutting off the finger of one of their murder victims.
Why? That was my first reaction. It was probably similar to the cry of someone informed that a beloved family member had committed a terrible crime, “Why?” One searches for a reason, some way to make sense of something like this which shatters one’s soul. I need look no further than our own daily headlines for the evidence that supports my choice for a reason. There’s a murder trial going on in my town right now. Three kids broke into a home a year or so ago and hacked a woman to death, and almost killed her young daughter. They did it because they wanted to kill someone. On the way out of the wreckage they took a few small items as mementos of the experience; tokens, trophies, totems.
We’ve killed about 40 million people that way, hacked ’em to death while they thought they were safe in their “home”, since 1973; killed ’em because we wanted to. Most recently we read about a “doctor” , an abortionist, in Philadelphia who kept the dismembered bodies of the children he killed in jars and plastic bags strewn around his office. Trophies?
Our “boys” over there did the same.
There ain’t a bit of difference that I can see among the three kinds of murderers, kids, soldiers and pregnant women. It doesn’t end there. We have judges who allow doctors to kill old folks or sick ones because they have become burdens on their family or on the resources of the facilities where they are supposed to being treated.
And there are politicians, and pundits and professors who will say that there’s nothing wrong at all with killing old and sick folks, and folks who can’t walk, or who will be “burdens” if we allow them to be born, or who are just in the way.
Someone mentioned they thought it was ironic that the pictures appeared in a German newspaper. Why should it be ironic that the Germans have pictures of some of the citizens of this place of death smiling beside their kills? I don’t think the truth is ironic at all.
We have the choice to kill, so why not? They certainly had the means and exercised their right to choose. The photos are proof of that. Who needs a motive when murder has become a right? What I find truly ironic is that some forms of murder are still considered crimes. Call me a reactionary; the kind of fellow who only makes right turns, whose gear shift only reads “R” for reverse because there are a few things I would reverse around here if I could, and most of them have occurred in the fifty years since I came into my own.
I’ll not give you chapter and verse, but you must know, as well as I do, the role played in the huge culture shift since mid-century by media, scholarship, science and politics, so that now we talk openly about such rights as the right to kill. Well, we don’t call it that, but it is the functional equivalent. The infection has spread so far that we find young boys thinking there is nothing wrong with invading a home in the dead of night for the sole purpose of brutally killing the people who live there and then bragging to their friends about the act, soldiers “defending” freedom committing murder and taking photos to prove it and women killing their children a million times a year while the courts and legislatures tell them it is their right.
I’ll grant you there may still be a few hardy souls who have raised their voices or will raise them against this outrage. They are drowned in the din coming from so many more on the side of choices.
The late Pope John Paul II said that evil spreads with amazing speed, and I think a direct line can be drawn from the cheapening, the loss of a sense of value and dignity in human life, that is produced by the evil of abortion to these other acts we witness. Yes, it’s true that we’ve failed miserably in the past all over the world in protecting and caring for human life, but for 2k years we’ve seen slow advances on that kind of failure…a lot of setbacks, but slow advances. But, within the last 60 years, at my counting, after the defeat of Nazism and the fall of Communism, and contemporaneous with them both, there has arisen a greater enemy. That enemy has persuaded us that killing is as normal and necessary as breathing, laudatory in many cases and a right.
“From an attitude of skepticism in relation to the foundations of knowledge and culture,” again as JPII says, has come a rejection of it all in favor of a kind of Promethean attitude of reliance on ourselves alone. That way produces the inevitable outcome of death, a death with no resurrection on the last day, and a death to which a great many people march in ignorance and with great pride in their “accomplishment”. You are right if you say we need to pray for them. We need also to pray that some of the voices raised in defense of the indefensible will fall into silence.
I’d begin on campuses and in school rooms across the country to reverse that trend that has led us to descend from the City on a Hill into its sewer. Over the years in those places we have exchanged an education in Virtue for values, Truth for tolerance and Reality for relativism. The curriculum being thus emptied we have grown up generations of students, the first of whom now wander aimlessly in the desert of self indulgence and rights without responsibilities; rights with terrible consequences, though, for the weak and voiceless.
We have become Nineveh with no prophet to cry out the truth about us, with no ruler to accept it and declare a time of mourning, pour ashes on his head, wear sackcloth and order everyone else in this mad house to do the same; fasting from food and drink until God, who by rights should wipe us out because we deserve it, lifts His hand.
At no time since they were uttered, it seems to me, have Moses words been more worth hearing and heeding:
- Moses said to the people: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Cain asked the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We’ve given the answer, “Not only no, but hell no!” Or, as John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae: “Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.” We now have “kill teams” in our Armed Forces. To my mind it is the direct result of a culture which condones, celebrates as a right, murder, such that “conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.”
A friend of mine saw the photos and was appalled by them, as was I. He was the one who thought it curious and ironic that they appeared first in the German paper Der Speigel. That paper also has 4,000 more photos and videos of similar atrocities committed by the group, a “kill team” as it called itself. Well might one ask where is the irony in a German paper publishing photos of American atrocities? We now join them in shame. Will you say, “But wait, the Germans killed millions, these are only a few.” Will voices claim that this was merely the fog of war and the pictures merely bad manners? Will the trophies cut from the dead bodies amount to more of the same slight failures in decorum; the mess of the battlefield? Why not Germany, or Russia, China, Uganda, Cambodia or Bosnia? We used to think we were different. We have no right to think so anymore.
Sleep well, and make sure your doors are locked.
UPDATE: Another friend quoted a dead Roman: “Homo homini lupus”, meaning to say that man is a predator of man. I have no evidence to point to that wolves kill wolves because the think they have a right to. Even when wolves fight each other, such struggles rarely lead to death or serious injury. We alone love to kill.