Any person living for any length of time in any region of the world where movies and books are readily available will have come across those tear jerking scenes of characters claiming to “remember the face of every person they killed.” There’s a reason for it. The scene sells. The vast majority of consumers want to believe there is some moral code imprinted on the mind of every individual which makes such a deed a traumatic event tormenting them in this life and whatever comes next.
That belief disappears in government leaders and heads of military. Well, it disappears outwardly anyway. If they admit having such a belief then every soldier returning from active deployment in a hostile theater would require massive amounts of psycho therapy at government expense. Ten years ago that would have been a shocking thing to say. Now, with news stories about PTSD popping up every few weeks, the government is having to eat crow and dig deep. For generations they have been able to sidestep this nasty little reality, leaving soldiers to suffer in silence.
People never really talk about the ones who come back without such problems. Are they one of those words you hear on cop shows about serial killers? Did they get it out of their system before they were mustered out? Did they successfully put it in a box on a shelf in their mind or is there a risk that shelf could come crashing down from overuse?
General media always paints a civilian who has never been in service capable of not being bothered by such things as some form of sick monster. When it is someone who has done military service they are painted as the victim. Both stories sell.
What about the ones in clandestine services? The ones who’s records will never be made public if they are even written down? I guess the general public doesn’t care because clandestine services tends to use them up then dispose of them. Society is never supposed to know they existed.
I guess that was a long winded way of saying, for most of us, such an imprint doesn’t exist. What does exist is a learned response telling a person they will most likely be executed themselves, or spend the rest of their life in prison. If we firmly believe it is justified and we will be rewarded rather than punished, we do it.
You always hear about those genocide groups conscripting young boys, making them watch their parents be killed, sometimes forcing the children themselves to kill their parents, then training them to be child soldiers. That’s why. If they have a learned response about killing being wrong, it isn’t firmly seated. The ones who firmly believe it don’t make it out of the village that night. The rest are taught they will be rewarded for every kill.
Religious and government leaders have been using these truths for centuries. It is how we raise armies, recruit “wet” teams for government agencies and how supposedly pious people can say abortion is murder, then firebomb an abortion clinic killing some or all of the medical professionals inside.
Terrorist groups have been playing both sides of that truth to recruit suicide bombers for decades. Not only do they promise the “living martyr” a perpetual stable of virgins in the afterlife, they pay the bomber’s family money and shower their children with gifts. Whether it is ripping fruit from a tree or gutting an animal for a meal, humans have a biological requirement to kill. Hate is a learned behavior. Killing is instinctual. Even if you are just putting a worm on a hook, there is a death involved. A second death is required for the fish to find the frying pan.
Few people raise and kill their own livestock these days. Farmers raise it and a token few work in slaughter houses to kill and cut it. Okay, it’s thousands who work in those places, but as a percentage of humans on the planet it is small. That leaves the eaters free to decry how animals are raised and slaughtered firmly believing their hands are clean and that their conscience is clear when neither is true.
All humans compartmentalize reality. Some are just better at it than others. In most civilized countries, hiring someone to kill someone else is just as serious a crime as having done the deed yourself, but ordering a chunk of dead animal in a restaurant or supermarket somehow lets consumers believe they aren’t directly responsible for the death.