Thursday, February 28, 2008





No, this isn't Photoshopped.

Yes, we're that profoundly messed up.

This isn't a matter of taking the moral high-ground. It's easy to scoff. Anyone can offer lofty, disparaging retorts about the grinning soldier in the photo. I'm not so much concerned about what she did as I am frightened by the possibility -- however slim -- that I could be that way too. After all, what really separates us, if anything?

Some people like to think that our "humanity" is in some way incorruptible and that we're largely immune to such things as giving toothy thumbs-up signs while posing next to blackening corpses.

I gave that nonsense up a long time ago.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Mac. I've never actually seen a dead body, but when I do, I'm sure to put my face within inches of it.

Anonymous said...

Pull up a chair and sit down for a viewing of "Full Metal Jacket". I think Kubrick captured the mentality perfectly. These people are stripped of their supposed "humanity" when they sign up. You can't train someone to take a life without hesitation and then expect them to have left over empathy. Especially when they pound into your head that "enemy" is classified and as something less than human.

These soldiers need serious therapy. It will be a hell of a mess when they come home.

Denny

Anonymous said...

"These soldiers need serious therapy. It will be a hell of a mess when they come home."

Mass post-traumatic stress disorders. Happens during and after nearly every war. The cognitive dissonance between first being a civilian, then being trained to be a killer among killers, and then being expected to "readjust" to civilian life afterward.

Really difficult--my Dad served in WWII, Korea, and VIetnam. Saw and experienced some quite horrible things. Was never the same. Or so he told me.

Justin said...

It all has to do with the roles we are forced to play, and the frame this makes us see the world through. Bone up on Zimbardo and The Lucifer Effect (sounds like a great band name).

I'm a firm believer that, even though we seem to be in thrall to our 'natures', we've only been what we are for about 50,000 years. And the assholes who like to compare us to chimps can get bent. Distant relatives at best, those primitive dipshits lived in gender segregated societies, and the male-female size ratio was way out of whack compared to homo sapiens. Despite our current horrific situation, there are many ways to be, and the future is still open.

Wasn't it Bruce Sterling who said 'become the change you want to see'?

Keep thinking big.

Anonymous said...

"What seperates us?"

Not so fast.

I for one would not do this.

[deleted expletives]

Anonymous said...

same anonymous as above said (after cooling down):

& agreed with above posters & why I wouldn't be caught dead being a soldier in the first place (though even then I wouldn't).

death in the afternoon...with scrumptuous doughnuts! said...

The woman looks so damn happy! Almost laughing...well, "Mission Accomplished!"

Death is a dish best served cold, on a chilly slab.

W.M. Bear said...

Pull up a chair and sit down for a viewing of "Full Metal Jacket". I think Kubrick captured the mentality perfectly. These people are stripped of their supposed "humanity" when they sign up. You can't train someone to take a life without hesitation and then expect them to have left over empathy.

The best war movie ever made, far and away, precisely because of the way it catches this military mentality through the lingo. In the opening sequences, the Drill Sargent (played by a real live Marine Drill Sargent apparently) keeps reminding the recruits, "You're killers!" When they are about to graduate and getting their assignments, the Sargent looks at Joker's assignment and makes a face.

Sargent: "Joker. Stars and Stripes. Stars and Stripes? You're not a writer, you're a killer!"

Joker: "Sir, yes sir!"

Katie said...

Just out of curiousity...how many of the people commenting on this have actually been in the military?

Justin said...

Just for the record, I wasn't specifically talking about the military. Just about any job can inspire myopic devotion and a chauvinistic world view.

You are what you do, and what you do is dictated by the geographical location of the womb that spurted you out. It's a geographical, biological conspiracy.

Go go Gadget McKenna!

W.M. Bear said...

Just out of curiousity...how many of the people commenting on this have actually been in the military?

My father was a decorated veteran of both World Wars. I figured he fought one of them for me and opted out of Vietnam. I talked my own son OUT of signing up one long night when he was getting all teary and patriotic. I've never regretted either choice.

kcotae said...

When your dead, your dead, so what does it matter?

W.M. Bear said...

How can you be so, er, dead certain? Have you ever died? (Actually you probably have -- many, many times before.)

Zen Story

A Zen student went to his teacher one day and asked, "What is it like to die?"

The teacher answered, "I don't know."

The student said, incredulously, "But you are a Zen Master!"

And the teacher answered, "Yes, but I am not a dead Zen Master."