Why do we have to kill each other?

Or why Guin isn’t feeling so patriotic right now.

Okay, this is gonna sound glurgy, naive, downright rosey colored glasses fraidy cat, etc etc…

But I’m serious. What is wrong? Right now, I’m feeling positively nauseaus-literally. I feel like vomitting, and I just stood in the shower in a ten minute crying jag.

I mean-what the HELL is wrong with this world? Why is it that people are killed every goddamn DAY in Ireland, Yugoslavia, all over the whole fucking world? And yet when it happens here, it’s the ultimate. I don’t mean it was worth less, or more, or that we deserved it. I mean, why are people so well, isolated? They don’t realize this happens everyday?

And when I told my family how I felt, that going to war against Afghanistan is like kicking your grandmother since no one there has a pot to piss in, I was told by my father to go to Pakistan. My mother informed me that people in the past have fought and DIED so that we could live freely.

But why do people HAVE to fight? It really bothers me, that the solution when governments and people have problems is to lob a few bombs at people? What’s up with that? Why do people get so up in arms about spending maybe 1 billion on food banks, for example, and yet have no problems about spending 5 billions on nukes?

Why do we have to do this? I KNOW there is no answer-I just need to vent. I read that TIME article on Bin Laden today…he apparently was at one point shopping around for NUCLEAR WEAPONS on the black market!!! And then I saw the picture someone mentioned of one of his sons reading a poem about his father-the kid was all of seven years old. He doesn’t have a fucking chance in the world with a father like that. THAT is what’s sick-these people are born and from the time they’re small they’re taught to hate and kill and it’s SICK!!!

I’m sorry-I know there are no answers. I know I’m going to be called an appeaser-and I’m not. I think we DO need to deal with Bin Laden and the Taliban and people like that. BUT…not at the expense of one single innocent person. I don’t care what people say about there’s always civilian casualties. Maybe that’s what is wrong-maybe we need to find a way that there can’t be.
My mother is always telling me, “Life is unfair-you have to find a way to deal with it.” Maybe my way of dealing with it is trying to change it-I know it’s not going to happen, but should I let that stop me from trying?

At times like this, I load up a good game of Quake.

Think of it this way, Guin - at least here we don’t have the fighting they have in the Mideast or Europe. Yes, murders happen every day all over the world, but the United States isn’t at war with itself or its neighbors. So when we get attacked, it is a big deal, 'cause it just don’t happen that often.

We’re lucky, and, maybe, just maybe, we have some kind of regard for human life that other areas of the world are having a harder time with. Frankly, both of them give me pause to appreciate the country in which I live.


I know-it’s not that that bugs me. It’s that people don’t seem to care when it happens-because other areas are always fighting. It just makes me sick…


What if there simply is no other way?

What if - as shitty as it sounds - the only choices are that we do nothing (and leave Osama et. al. free for Round 5, with Rounds 1-4 being the USS Cole, the WTC truck bomb, and the embassies in no particular order); or we go after him, which inevitably means a loss of some innocent life?

What if there is no good choice - only a crappy choice and a less crappy choice?

What then?

  • Rick

Well, but Guin, that’s part of the answer. We need to kill him because he is a terrorist, and is shopping around for nuclear weapons on the black market, and if we don’t, he’ll eventually get them and use them, then a lot more people will die.

I agree with you. It would be nice if we could find a way where only the “bad guys” get killed and innocent people don’t, but I don’t think that can happen, because people like Bin Laden don’t care if innocent people get killed, so they’re going try to set things up so that, in order to kill or capture them, you’ll have to kill innocent people.

So, that’s our choice, and it’s a damn bad one.

Short answer? Because humans are animals, both literally and figuratively.


Too late for that. Not dealing with him sooner has just resulted in around 5,000 innocent civilian casualties. Not to sound accusatory or anything, but how many more would it take before it becomes clear that people such as this must be eliminated, even if it means some others must die? The “good of the many” and all that.


We can try, heck, maybe we should try, but it won’t ever happen. Utopian societies are the stuff of fiction, not reality.

If it’s any comfort, I have never been able to wrap my mind around the fact that people will hate others enough to kill them over things as trivial as being born Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Hindi, Serb, Croat, or Bosnian, white or black, hetero or homo, Arab or Israeli. It has never made sense to me, especially when you see that so many of these people are “paying back” something their “enemies” did, who were only paying back something they’d done, who were . . . and it goes on and on and escalates into horror because everyone wants revenge and no one remembers what started the fight in the first place.

Now, I’m as revenge-minded as most people–if you hurt someone I love, I WILL come after you to try and stop you from doing it again. But it’s YOU I come after, not your family, friends, or neighbours . . . it’s this expansion from the specific to the general that constantly baffles me.

I don’t know. Maybe I just haven’t been hurt badly enough, on a personal level, to make the kind of leap so many people seem to have made. On the other hand, so many of these people seem to be able to virulently hate someone or something for no other reason than that someone or something is what they hate, whether or not they, personally, have been affected in some way.

A philosophy teacher of mine once said that man was not a rational being, he was a reasoning animal. My therapist told me, many times, that emotions are messy, impossible to control, and even harder to categorize or understand. Maybe there is no reason for people to hate the way they do; maybe they just do.

I note that this post makes little sense and is highly disconnected. I’ll post it anyway, because it’s a fairly accurate representation of the circles I go through every time I try to figure out why one faceless mass of humanity does something horrible to their equally faceless foe. And there’s another thought–have you ever noticed that, by and large, the people you meet as individuals are really nice, reasonable, rational beings, but that when you meet large crowds of people the reason and rationality go out the window and it’s operating on unreasoning emotion? Too bad we don’t have a real Hari Seldon.

Guin sweety - It is funny, but the same thought hit me like a ton of bricks today.

I was at work sitting across my desk from a Vietnam combat vet. He suffers from extreme PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), he has physical disabilities caused from exposure to Agent Orange, he is not homeless but he lives in isolation. He is considered permanent and totally disabled by VA.

When we first began to speak, he was jittery, hostile, and kept looking about the room. Very seldom does he leave his home but when he does, it is traumatic for him.

It always takes him time to warm up to me, but he always does. As our conversation continued, he began to cry, not for himself but for a new generation of soldiers who may turn out just like him.

I was able to choke back my own tears until our session was finished, but then I sat at my desk and cried. In spite of the many years that I have been in this job, days like this never get any easier. I am not alone in our small group of counselors who let our emotions take over sometimes.

As I sat there, I realized that GODDAMN IT here we go again!

Why do we kill each other? I have no answer for you. Sadly, it’s just the way the human race survives and I am losing faith that we will ever know a better way.

I didn’t say we shouldn’t punish Bin Laden-or kill him if need be. (Personally, I would say lock the guy up in a leftover gulag, lest he become a martyr.)

I KNOW you guys are right. I’m just venting because it makes me so upset. I hate seeing it-really, I’m the biggest softy.

Guin, how could any student of Russian history be surprised by such violence? Compared with what those people have went through we in the US are living in a utopia.

I KNOW that. It’s not that I’m surprised or shocked…just sickened by it.

It’s just that…all I see are people saying, “We’ve got to bomb them, bomb them bomb them…” I just want to know WHAT drives anyone towards violence?

And yes, Bin Laden must be punished. But what do we do with the people like them?

Well killed on the roads or just plain good old-fashioned murdered maybe but not by terrorism.

Knee-capped or just the crap beaten out of them by paramilitary thugs yes but the death rate has gone down significantly

Hope this helps to cheer you up :wink: :frowning:

I wrote a paper about aggression for an evolutionary psychology class last semester. I would be happy to get the primary article and exactly name the seven functions of aggression, but my BF is taking a nap and I don’t want to wake him up by turning on the light. The article was by Buss and Shackelford, in a clinical psychology journal.

Basically, violence is an easy way for people to get what they want. For example, buying a car legitimately is difficult. A person has to save up the money, get financing, and actually go out to a dealership and negoiate for it. To get a car illegimately, a person just has to carjack someone who already has one. No saving, no hard work, the carjacker only has to worry about being caught.

The above example can be applied to anything-food, shelter, political power. Most people are willing to use nonviolent menas to get what they want-buying, trading, suing, voting, negoiating, playing paper-rock-siscors. Unfortunately, there will always be people who are willing to take the easy route.

Well, Ballybay’s right. Getting what you want via violence is simply much easier than through other means. Why work when you can just take whatever you want from the peasants?

But, we’ve discovered in the past couple hundred years that all sorts of interesting things happen when we try to limit violent theft. People start to produce more stuff, since they aren’t worried about losing it. They save money, build machinery. They start being nicer to their neighbors.

It is a very difficult thing for human beings to pull off. Being non-violent is pretty much against everything our instincts tell us. Be we derive so much benefit by not listening to those instincts that I believe we should try it.

Let me say that I have no problem with folks wrestling with moral questions of this nature. I would love to see a solution to this situation that doesn’t involve more killing, I just don’t think that’s possible.

Let me try to lay the situation out, Guinastasia. You do not want to pay the “expense of one single innocent person”. Well, in less than two hours on September 11, 2001 more than 7000 innocent people were killed. It’s too late for “no civilian deaths”, it’s already happened.

In fact, it’s been happening for decades now, in ones and dozens, mostly in the countries where these foul people live. Now they have escalated to halfway around the world and killing by the thousands.

If they do acquire nuclear weapons they will be able to kill by the millions.

If we do not respond effectively the killing will continue. Do you have a good understanding of that? This is not the end for the terrorists. Their stated goal (one of them) is the utter destruction of the United States. That means every man, woman, and child.

Now, about trading one innocent life for another - it’s not good. This is not about good choices. This is about the least bad choice. It was unjust to put the passengers of Flight 93 into a position where they would be killed by using the plane as a cruise missile or have to die themselves. At least some of them thought that 44 deaths were better than several hundred or several thousand. There might well have been someone or several someones aboard with a different opinion. We will never know.

This is much the same question of whether dropping the atomic bomb on Japan was justifiable. Yes, thousands died. If we had invaded Japan in a conventional manner (the alternative) thousands would have died. If thousands will die either way, and you MUST choose, how DO you choose?

So – no matter what, Guinastasia, people will die over the next few years. A lot of people. The terrorists will make sure of that.

I’ll give it a shot. Clausewitz said “War is an extension of policy by other means.” I heard this maybe 15 years ago and I still am wrapping my mind around it today. People HAVE to fight when something vitally important is at stake. Important “policy” considerations are national survival, food, natural resources, morality, and sometimes religion.

Economics only exists, for example, because there are “unlimited wants but limited resources.” You will find that phrase in the first chapter of any introductory economics book. Therefore, economic “policy” often leads to war.

Are there often alternatives to war? Yes, but every potential party in the policy conflict must agree to be peaceful. Once the “war barrier” is broken it is difficult, if not suicidal, to opt out.

William Saletan wrote an article in Slate on Sept. 19, 2001 here which I think explains the present situation as well as anything I have read. An excerpt follows.

“…Superficially, it’s empowering to analyze every situation in terms of the consequences of our own acts. Understanding how we can change the enemy’s behavior by changing our own appears to put control in our hands. It also gratifies our egos by preserving our sense of free will while interpreting the enemy’s conduct as causally determined. We’re the subjects; they’re the objects. But the empowerment and the ego gratification are illusory. By accepting as a mechanical fact the enemy’s aggressive response to our offending behavior, we surrender control of the most important part of the sequence…”

I know-and I know you guys are right. That’s just what bothers me though.

I guess I’m just venting…I just hate hearing about anyone being killed. I also hope that if we do take out Bin Laden and his gang and the Taliban, we spend a lot of time helping the people left behind…when I saw that picture of Bin Laden’s son-the kid couldn’t have been more than 7 years old. Jesus. He doesn’t have a fucking chance in the world, because he’ll be taught to hate, and he’ll teach HIS kids to hate, and so on and so on. It never ends.

It’s just me venting.

Guinastasia, might I suggest you pick up a copy of a book called “Out of Weakness” by Andrew Bard Schmookler.
This book explains how human beings phycologically become agressive and violent as individuals and groups. He also shares insights on how things can change.

Has been a few years since I have read it but I think you might just find it interesting and worth reading.


I hope this makes some sense, because I’m awfully confused right now.

This is what has been bothering me so much these past two weeks. Circumstances when physical violence is easier than other approaches.

What got me thinking was a thread (I don’t remember whose) asking if you would fight for your country, as in joining the military effort. Most responders answered yes. I’m not sure what I would do if called to face an immediate physical threat to the country, but I imagine that I would fight back too. (Under certain circumstances, which I haven’t quite figured out yet.)

Having said that, I am disturbed by the fact that while many people are willing to give up comfort and safety and even their lives to join in a physical combat, very few seem to be willing to give up as much to join in a different kind of fight. A fight to reduce ignorance and hatred, on the battleground of the heart and mind.

Actually… I’m ashamed to admit that I would find it easier to join the army than reach out and try to talk to my neighbors here and abroad, to gently, compassionately and patiently explain what I believe in hopes of changing their minds and hearts. It’s easier to let those in authority – such as military commanders – tell me what to do than make the tough, adult choices required to deal with hatred one-on-one.

I’m working on this. But I worry that a similar lack of courage will prevail around the world and things will only get worse.