Sandy Hook is just the beginning. We’re raising a generation of mass killers.
Just the beginning, that this nation was raising a generation which would turn to gunfire. He then turned to other mass shootings, ones the NRA used for marketing purposes, it became even more clear that the entire seminar,…
Upwards of 90% of our returning veterans have been trained and are willing and able to shoot and kill. These numbers only make sense when we realize that only 15% of WWII veterans “could bring themselves to fire at an exposed enemy soldier.” But by Korea we’d trained our soldiers differently, with the number rising to 55%. By Vietnam the number was 90%, where it hovers today.
In other words, the very act of doing what we ask them to do can perpetuate unimaginable problems at home.
So we teach our young men and women to kill, send them away to kill people, bring them back home, and expect them to immediately and successfully cope with an environment where people are (rightfully) horrified at killing other people. And we’re surprised when they come back emotionally damaged? And we are amazed that they have trouble fitting into non-military employment? And we’re shocked that they use alcohol or drugs to take the edge off those terrible wounds?
From Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book, On Killing.
“There is such a thing as a "natural soldier”: the kind who derives his greatest satisfaction from male companionship, from excitement, and from the conquering of physical obstacles. He doesn’t want to kill people as such, but he will have no objections if it occurs within a moral framework that gives him justification - like war- and if it is the price of gaining admission to the kind of environment he craves. Whether such men are born or made, I do not know, but most of them end up in armies (and many move on again to become mercenaries, because regular army life in peacetime is too routine and boring).
But Armies are not full of such men. They are so rare that they form only a modest fraction even of small professional armies, mostly congregating in the commando-type special forces. In large conscript armies they virtually disappear beneath the weight of numbers of more ordinary men. And it is these ordinary men, who do not like combat at all, that armies must persuade to kill. Until only a generation ago, they did not even realize how bad a job they were doing.“
"One veteran I interviewed told me that he thought of most of the world as sheep: gentle, decent, kindly creatures who are essentially incapable of true aggression. In this veteran’s mind there is another human subspecies (of which he is a member) that is a kind of dog: faithful, vigilant creatures who are very much capable of aggression when circumstances require. But, according to his model, there are wolves (sociopaths) and packs of wild dogs (gangs and aggressive armies) abroad in the land, and the sheepdogs (the soldiers and policemen of the world) are environmentally and biologically pre-disposed to be the ones who confront these predators.”
These sheepdogs are estimated to be about 2% of the male population. Just one of many nuggets of interest that Lt. Col. Grossman filled his book with. If you’re looking for a book on a topic that will broaden your horizons in strange ways I’d recommend On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The subject of Killology is fascinating, after all it’s like virgins studying sex.
This is not to say that all people can or will kill, or even that all soldiers can or will kill. Combat is staggeringly complex, an environment where human beings are pushed beyond all tolerable limits. There is much that we do not know, and plenty that we should be doing more to learn about. Grossman is clearly leading the way in posing these questions. Much of his work on the processes of killing and the relevance of physical distance to killing is extremely insightful.
I haven’t come to a conclusion on either type of thought. I’ve been interested in the mixing of social sciences with historical evidence, but of course history is complex enough, and social sciences imprecise enough, that the mingling of the two is nothing but hot air at present.
Of course, as they put it, those of us who haven’t killed talking about killing are like virgins speculating about sex. So I will refrain from commenting on killing. But this book is a very good read.
“While physical distance is achieved with bombs, rocket launchers and even night-vision goggles, which reduce humans to ghostly green silhouettes, emotional distance often is achieved by categorizing targets as different because of their race, ethnicity or religion.”