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In the mid-1960s, political scientist Hannah Arendt published a book-length study of how some of the great evils of history, such as slavery and the Holocaust, managed to occur. Her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, concluded that generally such crimes are not carried out by fanatics or sociopaths, but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their superiors and their state and therefore do what they are told to do, and participate with the view that their actions are normal. The word “banal” is defined as “something that is trite, normal, and commonplace.” The root of the word comes from the Old French word ban, referring to feudal military service, which was compulsory and thus commonly accepted. Thus, military culture is by definition synonymous with banal, which my acquaintances at Camp Eggers demonstrated as they strove to find orders to follow and avoid responsibility for their actions.
Most members of the military establishment receive extensive training in combat techniques, including of course how to kill other human beings. One common drill at boot camp is to have recruits lunge repeatedly at mock human targets with mounted bayonets, shouting “Kill! Kill!” as they stab their imaginary victims. After months of such training, killing itself becomes banal, something normal and commonplace. The military culture of thoughtless submission to authority combined with heavy conditioning to snuff out human life creates a wide path towards the “great evils” that Hannah Arendt addressed.
Examples of what a sane society would call evil acts abound in the annuals of our current wars. For example, in 2010 a group of five American soldiers murdered a number of Afghan civilians “for sport,” and collected fingers of their victims as trophies. Killing for them had become normal and banal; it was in fact what the soldiers were trained to do.
On March 25, 2003, Marine Sgt. Eric Schrumpf was participating in the U.S. invasion of Iraq when he spotted an Iraqi soldier in his field of view behind a female Iraqi citizen. He couldn’t get a clear shot with the woman blocking his line of sight, so he shot her to get her out of the line of fire. “I’m sorry, but the chick was in the way,” Schrumpf explained. Later he elaborated, “We had a great day. We killed a lot of people.”
Over the long term, most soldiers committing such murders become victims of their own lack of judgment, unable to live with the profoundly antisocial acts they have committed. Sergeant Schrumpf is himself now debilitated by PTSD, and can scarcely function in civilian society. He has attacked people in movie theaters because he mistakes their cans of Coke for military weapons. "I'll never be the same again," says Schrumpf, who seems somehow mystified by the etiology of his emotional dysfunction.
Similar stories of the fruits of combat duty are limited only by time available to tell them. After serving in the Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq , Lance Cpl. Walter Rollo Smith returned home and soon killed his wife, Nicole Marie Speirs, the 22-year-old mother of his twin children. He drowned her in a bathtub without any evident provocation or reason. In reflecting on his heinous crime, Smith said, “I know for a fact that before I went to Iraq , there’s no way I would have taken somebody else’s life.”
Interestingly, the faculty of insight—the ability to judge one's own actions and predict consequences—develops in the frontal lobe in stages: First as the ability to be objective and judge others' actions and later as subjective analysis and to be able to consistently think, 'If I do this, something bad might happen.' "It's fascinating that teens can see their friend about to do the wrong thing and say, 'Don't do that!,' whereas they can't yet recognize their own behavior as dangerous," says Jensen. "They really can—and should—act as each others' keepers."
Two discoveries prompted much of their scientific interest: that teenagers' brains are only about 80 percent fully developed and that brain development isn't complete until people reach their 20s or even 30s—more than a decade later than experts had thought.
reply to post by TDawgRex
Wars have always been about resources
Originally posted by TDawgRex
reply to post by MIDNIGHTSUN
I believe that you may be cherry picking just to justify how you feel toward a certain establishment within our society. I can do the same. All teenage boys are cold-hearted killers, look at Columbine. Mothers are deranged child murders, just look at the recent incident of the mother drowning her kids after a domestic fight. Hollywood stars are drug addled narcissists…well there is probably a grain of truth to that one. I can go on and on.
Seeing a can of Coke as a military weapon…really? I think he may have already been unhinged to begin with. His leadership failed him and the system, he probably exhibited signs prior to even being deployed and should have had a Psych eval, but kept being passed down the chain because of all the paperwork involved. A cowardly thing that I have personally seen before, tried to correct and was told to shut up. They usually pass the Soldier to another section or unit and now he/she is their problem.
People are people, both good and bad. We see more bad than good today because of today’s 24 hour media. “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality and ratings war. I know that PTSD is real but I believe that a majority of PTSD “victims” is due to a weak mind and refusing to accept the reality of what has happened to them, or in a Soldiers case, a situation they volunteered for by raising their hand and taking the oath. I personally have knowledge of Soldiers who claimed PTSD just for the VA disability check, they told me so. Now they have that in their file and are having difficulties finding jobs. Didn’t think that one through, did they?
Life happens and it’s rarely fair. Having a strong sense of self, morals, ethics and values goes a long way to helping cope with many adverse times in your life. Blaming others for your actions is immoral and cowardly.
Good topic for discussion.
edit on 18-4-2011 by TDawgRex because: grammer