Sunday, August 24, 2008

Killing People

I have never killed anyone, never in Vietnam, never in an automobile accident, never in any place. I never (knowingly) killed anyone.

On the other hand, as a country, we have killed people. Lots of people. Millions of them. I am not exactly happy about it. It certainly is not something to brag about, especially since a lot of those people were Americans. They were killed by other people, other Americans -- either in wars, medical accidents, automobile, train or airplane accidents, or in myriad crimes, blunders, and corporate monetary decisions.

The Civil War alone killed about 600,000 Americans. Whether they were Union or Rebel soldiers, they were still Americans, and we killed them -- we killed our family members over belief systems and basically over the right to own slaves -- which we also killed, although they were not "considered Americans" by those who did the killing.

Medical experiments, hospital errors, doctor blunders, pharmacy mistakes, etc, etc, have killed millions of people over the years. Some might have died of disease or pre-existing injury anyway, eventually. Yet that isn't much to brag about.

Cigarette companies have truly murdered hundreds of thousands of Americans, millions of people worldwide, every year for decades. They don't call it murder, of course -- its business. So many people made so much money from killing so many people, they just couldn't help themselves.

Conversely, even trying to kill people in Japan during WWII, we were only able to kill a couple hundred thousand using our atomic bombs, counting those who died over the years from complications of radiation poisoning. I'm sure we could do better today. Our nuclear warheads are thousands of times more powerful and cities are many times more closely packed with people.

In Vietnam we suffered almost 60,000 dead. They suffered at least 4 million, however Americans were not the only ones doing all the killing. We tried real hard, but the Vietnamese themselves proved to be the winners of the killing contests. I think we might have killed close to 1 million, but it's hard to be certain.

The Nazis, the Japanese, the Russians, the Chinese, the Cambodians, and lately, the Muslims, have killed uncountable millions of people in the name of war, politics or religion. For the Nazis it was just "technically necessary" to kill all those who opposed them, including some 6 million Jews who just happened to be the scapegoat for all Nazi problems. The other warmongers and ideologically driven madmen like Stalin and Mao had to kill off all the "intellectuals and deviants" for the sake of the state. The Muslims have Jihad -- the holy necessity to kill everyone who believes differently than them.

I think the current, worldwide issues like religion, oil or water resources, food and living space -- all contribute to an increase in the number of people being killed. There might be lulls in the killing in some years compared to others. There may be actual ends of wars, agreements over resources, decisions to decrease the killing, and even accidental failures to kill people, that keep the population climbing. Yet, the more people that are born, the more people that are killed.

What do I want? I certainly don't want more killing. I don't want to be killed, nor do I want my children and grandchildren to die before their natural time. I just want peace and quiet. Why do so many people feel that killing others is the only solution to problems? I have no idea.

Am I a Pollyanna? Nope. I'm smart, cynical, skeptical, suspicious -- and I'm a good shot, I can use a gun, knife or even my bare hands if I ever have to. I look at the news and see stories about madmen in other countries trying to kill us all, and imagine that someday, somehow it may come to the necessity of self-defense. We may be forced to, once again, kill millions of people to keep them from killing us.

I am especially troubled by Muslims and countries with nuclear weapons (or both combined, especially...)

I imagine some great horde of Muslims, whipped into a frenzy by hate speech spewing zealots, trying to kill every non-Muslim in the world. It is part of their religion, part of their history, e. g. the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire. They want to conquer the entire Earth and convert or kill everyone who stands against them.

Likewise, there are those with very powerful weapons, including ourselves, who feel that the solution to every problem is to turn some city into a pool of melted slag. I'm not sure that it is even possible to end a war completely using such a method, but certainly it is possible to ignite a conflagration which could destroy most of the life on this planet. I think the resulting deaths of billions of people and trillions of plants and other animals would not be the desired end.

Yet, when I think of the current problem between "us and them", namely between the Western Civilization and the Islamic Theocracy, I am not on the Islamic side. I am on the side of Western Civilization, nothing less. So, if it comes down to them killing billions of us, or for us to kill billions of them, I am for the latter.

In other words, I see a future where conflicting belief systems, similar to those of the Civil War, the various world wars, and endless conflicts throughout history, will result in killing a very large number of people. Necessary? I don't know. Inevitable? Maybe. Horrible? Certainly. Stupid? Of course. That is what people are all about.

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