Thou Shalt Not Kill

ramboBy A.B. Thomas

It is by no accident that man is the top of the food chain; we are the by far the most cunning, cruel and indiscriminate predators on the planet today. One of the globally accepted platitudes is that the taking of another person’s life is wrong, yet daily we observe the bending of this platitude to make the taking of life an exception. It would seem that if “WE” say that it’s alright to kill it is acceptable.  However if an individual decides to kill there will be consequences. Thankfully there is the legal system that allows the individual to hire lawyers in an attempt to excuse away the taking of a life or at least defer those consequences for an extended period of time. The question thus becomes, is the taking of another life truly a criminal act?

The sheer volume of death tolled out by the hands of others would seem to indicate that it is not in the majority of cases as long as there is a group dynamic that is seen to have legitimacy to the act. Yet this legitimacy is dependent on the perception of those around in order to maintain the nullification of the crime of taking another life. For instance, Canada’s soldiers would not be charged with murder unless it was one of their own, nor would the government of Canada be charged with “conspiracy to murder” though by sending troops to a country could be extrapolated as intent. The Western world recognizes the legitimacy of the Canadian government and as a result, if there is a loss of life on the ‘other side’ then it is unfortunate but necessary. However Hamas, though recognized by the Palestine people as legitimate, is not seen as so by Western nations. The result is they have been deemed in the West as terrorists who have no protection against prosecution if caught for their violent actions; though from their point of view, their soldiers are acting exactly as they are supposed to.

Despite the variances in point of view, soldiers could be called “Slayers” as they could like, hate, or be indifferent to taking another person’s life.  They feel bound by duty to follow the orders of those above them in rank. Slayers are not contingent on the whims of a legislative body; they can be utilized by sects, religious or cultural, to suit the group’s decisions of who has the right to live or not. Slayers exist because they are protected from prosecution not through the wording of laws, but the community they serve have decided that slayers have a purpose to extract justice when there is no other perceived recourse to under take.

The taking of another person’s life would appear to be that of a mob mentality point of view as to whether or not it is acceptable. It could also be concluded that the taking of another life is only universally seen as wrong when the decision to do so is made by an individual. The action of an individual is often seen as deviant behaviour though if they were acting as part of a group the action would be seen as having purpose. To this end there would be a branching out of the definition of taking another life from an individual perspective to “Killers” and “murderers”.

Killers are akin to the accepted slayers with a couple of shared character traits. Both see their actions as duty, whether they like, dislike or are indifferent to the actual individual whose life they have taken. Both see their actions as an extension of that duty to the exclusion of who the individual target may have or may have not done to incur the actions taken against them. The difference between killers and slayers is that in terms of slayers, there are a percentage of those who suffer mental and/or physical consequences because of their actions. Killers are able to rationalize all their actions and compartmentalize any doubts about their own actions in terms of the victim’s actions. They are methodical in their hunting, capturing, torturing (whether it be sexual, psychological, physical or a combination of the three) and killing their targets. Killers are optimum slayers only they are without the protection of others. If an individual is a killer and is caught, there is no ‘rehabilitation’ that will deter this person from seeing the crime as such. They may be shrewd enough to pull the wool over the eyes of their captors, convincing them they have changed their ways but in truth they have just altered their methodology in order to avoid capture once they are freed.

Murderers are the emotionally bound takers of life. It would be fair to say that the slayers that suffer from post traumatic syndrome, alcoholism or any other kind of abuse issues would consider themselves to be murderers rather than sanctioned killers. Murderers often act on impulse rather than assessing the situation that they are in. The types associated with the taking of another person’s life attributed to murderers are crimes of passion, vehicular manslaughter, acting under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic, stress, distress, or religious fervour. The emotional attachment could be horror at what they have done, joy at what they have done or attaching blame to another for their actions. The ‘rehabilitation’ of murderers will add ‘successes’ to the statistics of those who are doing the rehabilitation because the nature of the murderer is to be absolved of the behaviour that caused the act of taking another life. On the other side of the coin, it is murderers who will end up committing suicide because they cannot the resolve the conflict of their attitudes toward taking  a life  with the actual act of taking a life.

Is the taking of human life truly a crime? In broad terms it would seem that human life isn’t as sacred as society attempts to canonize it into being so. The wrongness of the action is only deemed as such when the uniqueness of individuality is the focus in the intent of the taking of life. The crimes of an individual though are further muddied by the legal system in order to excuse away the taking of life as not being truly wrong but errant thinking leading to unacceptable behaviour. The evidence of this are terms such as “not guilty by reason of insanity”, “Accidental manslaughter”, and the degrees of murder charges that most nations have to judge the criminality of the taking of another life. Mankind lives in a world of Utopian ideals and creates laws to reflect those Utopian ideals. Perhaps it is time to live up to those ideals; which would mean the charging of the governments and their armed forces for the crimes against humanity, doing away with the insanity plea and  with the different degrees of taking another life to one single definition. Perhaps it is time to admit that “All men are created equal” is nothing more than a tired line and amend it to “All men are created equal – as long as they have the numbers to ensure they are equal; those in the minority are royally screwed”. Fantasies of black and white while living in the shades of grey have convoluted society’s ability to function for the good of all, society so much wishes to deny the perchance of violence that attempts to make excuses for those acts of violence. We are predators; it is only by doing away with the excuses that we as a society will be able to move forward.

6 Comments on “Thou Shalt Not Kill”

  1. Hahahah totally true. I made similar points when discussing vegetarianism and meat eating, but you totally nailed it when it comes to human definitions of murder. Whenever the majority says it’s okay to kill, then it ceases to be murder. The lesson is no longer thou shalt not kill, but thou shalt listen to the words of others whenever thou seeith it applicable.

  2. I have to disagree with the statement “We are predators.” I think we definately have the ability and constitution to become such, but at our base functioning are we truly predators? I have no desire to kill, and although I like meat, I am quite happy not eating it, it is not something I have to do to survive. On the issue of definitions, it is interesting to contemplate, but dead is dead. If someone kills they must take responsibilty for it. It is for this reason some of us try so hard not to have wars.
    Some cultures understand this. It was for this reason that many Native American tribes “kidnapped” settlers and their children, to replace a life with a life.
    All human understanding comes down to this: That which is scarce is precious. What is more scarce than the length of a human life?
    In closing I would ask the author, how exactly do you see the human race moving forward when/if they decide to embrace the ideal that they are killers?

  3. The future, at best is always murky in terms of the direction that mankind can take. There is no denying that there is the ideal of peace and cooperation that is espoused as the destination we are driving towards, we just happen to be attempting to take too many short cuts in order to beat the rush hour traffic. There are several factors hindering the actualization of this goal, the first one being the advancement of communication technology. Global instantaneous communications should promote knowledge of other peoples and then relaying the counterpoints of that knowledge in order to facilitate a mutual common ground that people can stand upon. The problem has become that the knowledge isn’t based on a neutral viewpoint; the majority of our knowledge of the world is delivered by a media mostly owned by governments or corporations with certain agendas to profit their own goals driven by one sided sensationalism which often creates mistrust because of overgeneralization of other ideologies or envy of what the other person has that one feels that they should possess – as technology progresses there is a greater sense of entitlement for the up coming generation rather than focusing on earning to obtain the desired status or material item. It is the nature of the beast; one on one communication promotes the exchange of information, mass communication does not lend itself to the address of singularity. Though browsing through a history book it would appear that man has always been prone to violent solutions, it was in much smaller doses than what we experience today because of technology we ‘know’ over having to guess at what the seemingly opposing side is thinking or the reaction and outcome of our actions may be. This creates not a win/lose mindset but a minimal/maximum amount of acceptable losses to the overriding factor. We have become desensitized to great losses of life because we understand the sheer volume of humanity that is out there.

    Along with the communication technology there is the new weaponry that mankind has developed over the centuries that take the personal responsibility of the kill to an impersonal level. There is a large difference between using your own appendages to take the life of another person versus a weapon – the invention of spears, maces, bows and arrows, crossbows, catapults, rifles and of course missiles have allowed people to take a step back from the act in a sort of warped sense of accountability. The farther away the target is, the less impact of their death on your senses is. The acrid mixture of the smell of blood, bowel evacuation, urine discharge, sweat – fear, anger, finality or sadness- this is a powerful concoction to have run through your nostrils that has a significant impact on the meaning of your actions. Distance objectifies to where the loss of life is merely a figure on someone’s page.

    This leads to a third consideration – the personality of individuals. I was far from raised in a violent environment but to the more of considering compromises as a possible solution, yet I do not take the possibility of violence from my equations as a possible plan of action. It would be nice if I could explain violent results with a mixture of loathing and regret, but to be quite frank, I have no qualms about my actions if that is the path that is deemed most advantageous to acquiring the outcome that I want. I have no doubt that there are many with similar rationalities as mine. There is a fine line between cooperation and competition; the subtleties in personal interactions where the two can be interchanged can cause inadvertent distrust rather the message of cooperative enumeration of a situation that one wishes to convey.

    The fourth factor that plays in the construction of the future possibilities is the political atmosphere; which currently and for the most part has always been, confrontational in nature. The nature of elections is that if a person wants to be elected they have to stand apart from their competition – if a politician concedes that someone from ‘the other side’ has legitimate solutions then it is likely that politician would perceive his electors as re-evaluating whether or not they are the ‘strong’ enough to represent them. In terms of fascism, royalty, or communism, there lies in the fact that you have a singular agenda that is being pushed through without concern for the objections of those who would not be served positively by the action the monarch or ruling party are enacting.

    In order for society to function in a definitive un-predatory schemata for a future of understanding and cooperative actions there needs to be not only societal change but personal change that I personally don’t see occurring unless there is a cataclysmic event that predates this. It is unfortunate that the majority of the world prefers the status quo of looking outwardly lustily while jealously guarding inwardly. The grassroots have to become weedroots. It is my opinion that sometimes less is more; global communications have to become community communications, nations have to become less worried about the ‘riches’ of their territory and focus on the people as the true assets of their nation, and people with personalities such as mine need to be shown that assertiveness over aggressiveness is far more rewarding for their outcomes than is currently being shown. Prisons are not the answer, they have now just become rehearsal halls for those who wish to perfect their craft; the ideal of spare the rod and spoil the child has become culturally limiting into modelling a positive behavioural routine over the sense of entitlement that has been built into our culture as a whole.

  4. [QUOTE=Author]Perhaps it is time to live up to those ideals; which would mean the charging of the governments and their armed forces for the crimes against humanity, doing away with the insanity plea and with the different degrees of taking another life to one single definition.[/QUOTE]

    I take the opposite approach – instead of beginning the absurd task of expecting societies to police themselves (as if anyone can watch the watchmen) I propose getting rid of those high ideals altogether: rather than recognizing all killings as a violation of some “sanctity” of human life, why not allow each individual to be the arbiter of value of his own life – those who regard their own lives highly and have the strength to hold up that value live, those that have neither the desire or strength to value their owns get weeded out of this already heavily-diluted genepool.

  5. [QUOTE=]All human understanding comes down to this: That which is scarce is precious. What is more scarce than the length of a human life?[/QUOTE]

    Back in the ice age this statement would have validity – but now that this planet is overpopulated (7 billion and counting) human life has become common, thus it no longer has value just for existing – thus the reason I’d like to bring back a measure of natural selection to society so that the excess quantity is trimmed off and what remains are stronger, higher-quality survivors.

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