Every Sunday there is a column in our local paper depicting Idaho history. Today it was about a military massacre of Indians. Nothing unique to Idaho to be sure, nor to the military for that matter. Our history is chock full of inhuman cruelty imposed on those considered to be inferior or a potential threat. Both the Indians and the whites indulged themselves against one another. Later the whites against the blacks.
I thought about how Japanese Prime Minister Abe was so distraught over the beheading of two of his countrymen. Then I reflected on the incredible cruelty shown to American prisoners of war during WWII. And the Germans against the Jews and so many middle eastern countries against their own people - floggings and stonings.
Even in a less violent mode all you have to do is look at how candidates for high office in our own country behave. They may not assassinate with bullets but they do with words.
It's in all of us. What defines us as civilized is how well we control these impulses. Western nations, for the most part, are way ahead of the curve. Then I think about the mean spirited criticisms of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle where he was accused of being anti-Muslim and going on killing sprees as if he did what he did because he wanted to and enjoyed it. I prefer to think we've evolved enough that the first time any soldier pulls the trigger to take a life is the most difficult shot he'll ever take.
What makes a Chris Kyle special to me is the added burden he faced in leaving the killing fields, placing the lid firmly back on his personal Pandora's Box and readjusting to civilized life. It's a test I'd not like to face. It takes an especially, strong and moral person to do so successfully. We need to be thankful we have a military full of such men and women.
We must also accept that the Islamic terrorists have no such sensibilities. For many it's all they've ever known. The strength of terror. They practice it with abandon. The only evolvement they've made is to increase it's effectiveness against those of us who find it appalling.
Is it equal blood lust to want to wipe them from the face of the earth? I don't think so. It's more about survival of what we've fought so hard to attain versus what they want to attain. Without us they have no need for conscience or qualms, they win.
We fight to prevent them from winning and to prevent ourselves from regressing. We could start by having our own politicians quit sniping at each other and help wage the war necessary against the real enemies of our society. Without an effort from all of us who consider ourselves civilized, that slippery slope is all downhill.