I was thinking about what it takes to be a soldier. To kill. A universal morality is topic for another day (another lifetime?) but, for sake of argument, we can say that in Western society, an anti-killing morality has persisted to the point of genetic modification: killing another human being has a negative visceral feel to it. I would like to think that I can defy the moral load on my genetics and kill in certain situations that clearly call for it. If someone threatened my family, I KNOW that I could ravage them without thinking. That knowledge is so lucid that in a Nietzschean eternity, I would see it as one of the few definitive points in my life. A singular hinge of truth.
I would know all this objectively. But would I truly feel it? Would I be able to dismiss the fact that I killed? I live in the minutia of my life: breakfast, work, play, dinner, sleep. This is me. I am these actions. But my mind is an abstraction. It lives in concepts and phrases. It is global and not particular. What happens when the minutia is in conflict with the abstraction?
It is easier with solid objects: my daughter and my wife. A threat to them is a threat to a tangible thing. But concepts of freedom, honor, justice are not. They are murky abstractions of what we think we value on a day to day basis. Shooting someone in the face is palpable; weighing the loss or gain of freedom is not.
Let me make something clear: I am in no way judging the actions of our soldiers over the last few days. Let me rephrase that: I do judge them but in a positive and grateful way. I believe they did a remarkable service for those who suffered and need closure. What I am talking about is how it may affect them; what it means to be a soldier. Maybe being a soldier is not about the act of killing. Maybe it is about being able to grasp the intangible in a way that the untrained cannot. To essentially live in the dream of freedom, honor, glory, justice. This is in no way a criticism. In fact, it is a representation of my jealousy. We need meaning. These abstractions are the heart of meaning. Living in them in them and by them seems to me to be a dream come true.