Someone blows up a bus or a building or a bunch of people, and then everywhere, every time, a universal, almost archetypal cry goes up asking, “Why? Why?! How could anyone do such a thing? What kind of a person would do this? Why?!” And the question is always repeated everywhere in the media, too, even as they splash the blood and guts across every screen and page: “Why?!”
And it’s an understandable question. You might ask it yourself sometime.
When soldiers in airplanes blast your neighbourhood into the stone age and everyone you know and love is mangled or killed, you might ask, “Why?”
When your child is caught under the bombed rubble, unreachable, screaming to her death, you could ask, “Why?”
When you’re stumbling alone through the burning city with your skin dripping off your charred bones, you probably will ask, “Why?”
Well, I can tell you why.
Let me tell you why.
Because we glorify killing. Around the world, humans have glorified killing. We build monuments to warriors and honour them on anniversaries of battles.
And we teach our children to kill. We tell them that war can be important, noble and beautiful. We tell them killing can bring peace. Killing can be a moral, righteous act, and sometimes it’s the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your country — even the only way. Killing can be an expression of the deepest love. Killing can be God’s work. We tell them war has toppled evil, godless tyrants and liberated legions of the enslaved and downtrodden. We tell them that often through history the real, final solution has not been widespread changes of heart, not insight, not creative cures, not concession, not diplomacy, surrender or compromise; we say killing was the cure. Killing has been a natural, normal act throughout human history, we tell them, and preparing to kill is sober and wise.
We even advertise it. Would you let a serial murderer praise the greatness of killing on a series of primetime television commercials about being the best you can be?
Yes, you would. You do.
And we’ll pay them to kill. We take teenagers who may be lonely or depressed, who may have behavioural problems, who may have sexual confusions, who may be spiritually vacuous or filled with religious or political propaganda, who may not be particularly intelligent or sensitive, who may know little of life, who may drink alcohol often, who are simply teenagers, who may have grown up in a culture obsessed with portrayals of gratuitous violence either aggrandized or imaginatively, grotesquely splattered, and we encourage them and pay them to enter into training to learn to kill on command without questioning.
Then finally we act surprised. We act shocked and outraged when our soldiers rape women and murder children. When they torture with glee, when they wantonly massacre families, we all wonder in supportive togetherness, “Why?”
Of course, there’s nothing at all surprising about it. Let’s get this straight: We practise and endorse an official policy of training hormone-charged, out-of-control kids to kill. Duh.
And then we support and encourage each other in reacting with utter shock when some of these kids end up uncontrollably killing. What th-?? How stupid are we, exactly?
And of course, basically, this whole charade of pretending we don’t understand the true nature and consequences of what we ourselves believe and do makes us look like such pathetic, stupid, ugly, violent hypocrites, that some people sometimes become overwhelmed with a desire to kill us.
Kind of obvious really, isn’t it?
So that’s why.
Next time, you’ll understand.