I don’t understand shock when soldiers dehumanize people, captured, living or dead.
I have the utmost respect for soliders, people who have served in any military capacity, because I believe they have done something impossibly difficult to themselves, something difficult to manage and walk away from, in service of their nation and their fellow man.
I can’t think of a way to train someone to be an effective soldier without teaching them how to either dim, or turn off, their perception of another combatant as a human being like them.
I’m not saying this to insult or discredit or negatively portray soldiers. I just don’t see a way a person could be effective in anything resembling a life or death combat situation unless they can stop recognizing the humanity of the people they are controlling, tracking, or killing.
And if you’re in a situation where you need to flip that switch a few thousand times a day, and stop recognizing the humanity of another person in front of you, to survive and to get the job done, I can’t imagine it’s easy to keep from getting stuck in that position, from defaulting to seeing others who are unlike you, with a profound otherness that makes it seem acceptable to treat them as less than human.
I remember the few times my grandfather was willing to talk about his war experience. I was old enough to know better than to ask for details, but it was clear he felt that he’d given up something about himself, and that he’d had to work hard to get as much of it back as he did.
I’m convinced that, to some degree, anyone who puts on a uniform gives up that part of themselves, and needs to learn how to reassemble it, or reassemble themselves without it.
The fact that, at the time it is most needed, that switch can lead to atrocities seems like the most obvious thing in the world to me. I’d argue that is the history of conflict, to some degree. The impact that the surrender of one’s recognition of humanity in others, can have.
It’s not shocking. It’s just an argument for the end of war. And a reason, as counterintuitive as it may sound, to appreciate every person who has ever been willing to risk giving up that part of themselves by putting on a uniform, for the rest of us.
[I wrote this more than a year ago. And only hit queue, today. Which is to say, I thought long and hard before publishing this, and I apologize if I offend anyone. Not my intention.]@7 months ago with 1 note