posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 04:47 PM
I agree that the first question to be considered is, how does one acquire a moral compass? Where does it come from? Someone said they don't
believe it comes from upbringing, but where else can it come from? Based on my own personal observations of infants and toddlers, I don't think we
are born with one. Toddlers will do all sorts of 'atrocious' things to animals and people if left to their own devices.
How do we learn what's 'right' and 'wrong' if not by watching the behavior of those around us and the reactions to it, and by assessing the
reactions of our family and friends to the things that we do and say? Certainly the 'compass' can be adjusted by what we read and learn in school
and from TV, movies, etc., but that comes later. Our concepts of right and wrong begin much earlier than that, in my opinion.
As far as war atrocities are concerned, I don't necessarily believe that some people who commit what appear to be atrocities have lost their moral
compass. Allow me to provide an example:
My Dad, who was in the Vietnam war, has told me that the enemy sometimes sent children, even very young children, towards a group of enemy soldiers
carrying a live grenade. They speculated that the children might have been told something like "take this to the Americans and they'll give you
candy," but who knows. That's only speculation. All they knew for sure was that, if they didn't shoot the child it would die anyway when the
grenade went off and take the American soldiers with it, and taking the risk that the child would reach them in time for them to grab the grenade and
throw it away before it went off didn't seem to be good odds. Even worse than that, in my opinion, once the pattern was established and the enemy
knew that the American soldiers would shoot a child walking towards them for no apparent reason (especially if it were carrying something), they began
to send innocent, unarmed children carrying nothing harmful towards groups of American soldiers for the express purpose of getting said Americans to
shoot the child so they could publicize the act. Where the people who used children in this manner lost THEIR moral compass is something I can't
speculate on, but the Americans who were forced to shoot the children in order to, as best they knew, defend their own lives, hadn't lost anything
except their innocence.
I'm not saying that all wartime 'atrocities' are of the type described above, but some are. And for the rest, I think that in many cases war is an
excuse for people to do things they would like to do anyway but can't because they're afraid of the consequences. In that sense, many of those
people lost their moral compass - or never had one? - long before the war started, and the war itself had little to do with it other than providing a
consequence-free venue for people to act on their desires.