Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The bombing of Pearl Harbor.   I find myself asking, "What have we learned?"

It would appear that for a time the wars bred an empathy in the general public that unfortunately did not not endure. 

 I watched a documentary on WAR over the weekend.   One Veteran made a most compelling statement. He said,  "In a world without Evil, there would be no need to construct Gods."    I don't think one can confine the 'need' simply to Evil, but it still forced me to think.  The Veteran went on to discuss the impossibility of the eradication of Evil, simply due to the fact that humans are, quite frankly,  inherently animals. Animals, I might add, most certainly with an consciousness that has a tendency to be influenced by Nature,  Nurture, Society, or all of the above.

I thought about the horrors wars have visited on families throughout history, I thought about the Nazi War Trials, which never cease to confuse me.  Granted, those men who went to trial had visited unspeakable horrors on innocent victims.  Yet when one witnesses the blood lust of the public en mass, demanding death for these War Trial Criminals, their behaviour has a tendency to echo the criminals actions.
Echoing,  without being under direct orders to carry out instructions or be shot on sight, tried for treason if you will, consequences the War Trial Defendants had to measure.  The animal always chooses survival as a priority.

As anyone who has worked in a military, or para-military environment will tell you, the deal of the day -  each and every day -  is  'follow orders, no matter the consequence, or your personal feelings towards them;  question later.'  With the exception of the few, rarely officially reported, cases of direct insubordination to either mechanically or morally flawed 'orders,'  following the orders ensures the survival of the individual.

Which is why when I see films of the War Trials that never cease to include scenes of the public outrage at the time, I cannot help but be sickened.   The consciousness of the groups appear to melt into one barbaric animal demanding death to the offenders.   The question has to be asked,  "What does that cry for the punishment of death make those who ask for it?"    For the objectors of death, the question will always be asked, "What if it - whatever it may be -  occurred to a relative or child of yours?" 

No, I don't believe in my heart of hearts, no matter what has occurred, I could turn into a barbaric animal demanding death, an eye for an eye if you will, no matter who or what the crime entailed.  That would make me into something less than the criminal, as I did not inflict the act, nor suffer through it,  simply one who was  connected in some way, or made a moral judgement concerning it.

This is not to say that I do not demand justice in it's entirety.  I am of the belief that unlike insane asylums of old, prisons should not be pleasant, bearable, comfortable places for those who have inflicted horrors on others.  Prisons should not be places mimicking society in a microcosmic version.   Criminals have violated their victims 'rights' to live in peace.  Criminals should have no 'rights.'  Prisons should be simply that.  No libraries, no computers, no on-line access to obtaining 'jailhouse' law degrees among others, no TV, you get the drift.  A cell with four walls, a place the offender is forced to confront his own mind, the only conversations he is able to have is with his own conscience, if he has one.

Which leads me to the horrific home invasion that occurred in this state last year.  A doctor's wife and two daughters were brutally murdered after enduring unspeakable events.  The court room was packed for the trial of the first defendant. Crowds outside screamed for the death penalty, en mass.  Individuals that were interviewed by reporters were nearly feverish in their miasmic wish for 'death to the criminals.'   I certainly do not condone the languorous attitude of  'forgiveness' either.   But I refuse to be drawn into the crowd clamoring for 'death to the offender.'    It is reminiscent of the abortion protesters, killing doctors who perform abortions.   Today the husband,  -  the only survivor of that home invasion - will be on Oprah's daily program.  He has endured the first trial, has yet to endure the second.  He is still in shock and loss mode.   He sincerely believes the death penalty is warranted.  I wonder what he will think in twenty years?  What will the jurors think of themselves, and will they remember they too, will have blood on their hands?

On a day like today, as Veterans of all the Wars past are dwindling in number, along with the Patriotic Fury that enabled them to survive to this day, I not only think about them, but the innocent immigrants, Japanese and otherwise, who were placed in internment camps here, until the end of the war, simply due to the mass paranoia.  Many of those individuals had fathers, husbands, and sons fighting for our side in the War. Thankfully they were, for the most part, treated humanely.

When I visited the site of the Arizona, as well as the National War Memorial, I left my father's name in the guest book, for without him, and all the others like him, I seriously believe the lust for power and supremacy would have taken over back then, backed by the group behaviour we are all able to witness now, under one circumstance or another.

And so, today I pay my respects to all those who died defending Freedom, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, as well as those around the world at the time, whose soldiers were fighting as well, for something they believed in. Right or Wrong. It makes no difference to those following orders.   

THANK YOU to Veterans around the world still among us who fought for their country, no matter what country.

What does make a difference is that we are free to make choices, thanks to those who have fought. 


  1. Wow! What a deep and thought provoking post!
    You are so right in saying that we owe much to those who passed before us.

    The thing that bothers me the most about it all, is that the generation (by age) of those causing the problems and committing to war, are NEVER the ones who actually do the fighting. When I was in Vietnam, it rare to ever see an american over 25 in a combat role.

    Again, really good post! Also, thanks for the nice words at my place...

  2. Wow what a post. I dropped by to say thank you for your comment on my mad blog and have stayed a while. Just signed up to be your newest follower.
    This was very deep and insightful. I live near The National Arboretum in the UK and whenever I go by and look at the monuments or the hundreds of people checking them out for loved ones that have been lost I always ask what was it for? My Father was in the army all his life and would have done anything to protect his country an dthose he loved. I find it harder to accept than he and my Mother. Thank you for posting this. Lovely to meet you and thank you for visiting me. I'll be back :)

  3. It really ticks me off as to how many kids nowadays are completely unaware of this event in history.

  4. You are right. So right. Something within the human animal lusts for blood. It gets out of hand with war, but each of these horrific events (like the family you mentioned) causes something awful to happen to people. I think this is the definition of prurience, except in terms of violence rather than sex.

  5. There is an interesting psychological situation here - people tend to take a harder-line in their view when they do not recognize the other party as individuals. But once one puts a human face on the opponent, their stance becomes less strident.

    Take for example stories in the news about some family having some unforeseen medical emergency. There is usually resulting outpouring of support and contributions. But try to get movement behind "unseen masses" in the same situation, there is little empathy or support.

    Likewise, the perpetrators of some horrendous crimes elicit a strong visceral reaction within us to punish the heartless monster. But when the facts of, say for example, horrible abuse on this person as a child, people tend lean toward mitigating their sense of retribution.

    My father-in-law having fought in WWII, has some war souvenirs from his time there... including propaganda leaflets showing the Japanese as buck-toothed savages with babies on the end of bayonets. We all know about the Nazi propaganda depicting Jews as vermin. If one can successfully dehumanize the other people, acting violently against them becomes easier.

  6. Robert - Astute, introspective observations, an objectiveness not often seen. The horrendous crime that occurred here was not totaly unrelated, though a bit off course.

    My father had been at sea when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I met a man while working at the PD who had actually seen a chair belonging to a top ranking Nazi official made out of human skin. He said it would haunt his dreams until the day he died. The thought of it still horrifies me. War, I think, brings out the best and the worst in humans.

    I see that horror in people here when discussing the home invasion. It occurred about twenty miles from here. What scares me the most is the rage that seems to be just below the surface of people these days that explodes to the surface as they mention the crime.

    I think I would have a different view of the death penalty if those wronged, were also the ones pushing the death buttons. If they truly desire death to their tormentor it would seem a bit saner, and less barbaric to me, as you say, dehumanizing it makes it easier.

    Then again, there are cases, though not this one, where innocent people have been put to death. There is no easy way around it.

    It appears the worse the socio-economic situation gets here, the more rage seen in society in general.

    I only wish people would channel all that energy they waste in rage, to more productive forms. There are always Veterans Hospitals to volunteer in, ways to show support for all these guys who now put their lives on the line.

    I'm not usually politically inclined, but over the past twenty years I have seen too many homeless men that had served thier country whose benefits were far outpaced by the economy. What ever happened to the Veterans Homes they used to have for these guys anyway?