All killing is wrong. All killing is murder. It doesn’t matter whether you or I think there is a justification for it. There is no justification for it. If we think there is, we’re part of the problem.
The problem is that some of us think others of us are less deserving of living. Whether we believe in god, or gods, or spiritual teachings, or gurus, or nothing at all — not one single human being has the right to make that determination.
Killing is wrong. Killing is murder. To cause the death of another human being is murder, it’s wrong. It’s the ultimate form of aggression, and aggression is a way of life we must put aside. Now.
I have been immersed in the killing in the Middle East for the duration of its current incarnation. It is ugly, and painful. And that’s just from my desk in the safety of my own home. Imagine those who are there.
Killing is wrong. Killing is murder. Calling for the deaths of others is no better — it is the same aggression, the same delusion that some of us are more deserving than others. It is wrong.
Part of my immersion has been to monitor social media from the region. Social media has long been a haven for anonymous threats of violence, and this war is no different. Except that many of the threats are far from anonymous.
These threats come from anger, which comes from fear, which comes from being bombarded by killing, which comes from that belief that some of us are more deserving of life than others. There’s nothing at all wrong with anger, or fear, but killing and threats of killing … are wrong. And believing that we are somehow more deserving than others is the biggest delusion of all.
I can’t say there would be no fear and no anger without killing and threats of killing. That would be a lie, and I won’t lie to you.
But we must defend ourselves, some of us say. No “must” about it. We choose to fight violence with more violence, and if it isn’t obvious just by looking at the tit-for-tat nonsense between Israel and Hamas that such a strategy is a failure, then we’re suffering from a profound lack of connection with reality.
Killing children is wrong, killing women is wrong, killing the elderly is wrong. I can’t say it enough. Killing anyone is wrong.
Killing is wrong. Killing is murder. And please don’t start talking about abortion right now. That’s a different issue entirely, and I’m not interested in talking about it right now. I’m interested only in talking about this fatal, pervasive disease so many of us have willingly contracted. It’s called aggression.
It’s aggression when we kill. It’s aggression when we wound. It’s aggression when we wish someone dead. It’s aggression when we call names. It’s aggression when we hate. It’s aggression when we think we’re better than someone else. It’s aggression when we think we’re less than someone else. It’s aggression when we think someone … some ONE … is wrong.
It’s all the same, differing only in degrees. It starts with believing there’s a difference between us and someone else — that is the source of aggression, the primordial aggression, so to speak. But of course, you say, we’re all different, and I say, on the surface. At our very cores, we are all the same. We are all beautifully, wonderfully human. We all … are.
Some of us are desperately trying to maintain a connection to our prehistoric tribalism. That’s all nations are about, and many religions too. Tribes. Us. Them. The other. From that comes aggression. From that comes a forgetting of who we really are.
When we fail to begin at that very basic beginning, we get the world we have today. It is not human nature to behave like this. It’s learned behavior, taught to us by people who play up the fear, who stir up the anger, because they feel it themselves and they can’t imagine that it isn’t true for everyone. And if it’s not, well, then. You’re one of them. The others, the ones we fear, the ones who make us angry.
There’s nothing inherently wrong about anger or fear. They’re emotions, like any other. We don’t have to like everything that happens. And we don’t have to engage in the same behavior that we don’t like.
We can’t seek help for this in religion, even those that say things like “Thou shalt not kill,” because those religions also say they are the only true religion, setting up the aggression that leads to killing.
And killing is wrong. Killing is murder, whether done in a dark alley or an open battlefield. War is nothing more than mass murder. And it’s wrong.
There is one way to stop this madness. One simple, elegant way. It’s this: Stop. Just stop. Don’t demand conditions, don’t wait for the others to stop. Stop now. Stop firing weapons, stop calling for the death of other living, breathing humans, stop the name-calling, stop the hating, stop thinking that somehow you are better than someone else because you are not.
And neither are you less than anyone else.
And when you stop, step back and look at what you became because of unbridled aggression. Don’t think of why it happened. Just look at what happened. If you try to explain it, if you start to say “but”, stop. Sit still. Stop the stories in your head and look, really look. See those people you think of as “other”, see them as people. Real people. Just people. Stop the stories you tell yourself about them. Let that go. See their fear, their grief, their pain. Really see it. It’s hard, and it’s gonna hurt. Let it.
Now ask yourself this: Is this the legacy you want to leave on this earth? Is this the story you want your life to tell? This ugliness will not go away. It will be a stain on your psyche whether you acknowledge it or not. Do you really want to feed it? Because I tell you now, what you put into the world is what you get out of it. If you really want to seed the world with fear and violence and blood and death and hatred and anger, then that’s what you’ll get in return. It will never end.
I’m nearing the end of another weekend. Tomorrow I’ll again immerse myself in this sickness. I want it to end, and not with a “ceasefire” that is anything but and one side declaring victory. I want all sides to declare victory over war and hatred, over aggression.
It can happen. And it starts with us. The actual combatants aren’t going to stop until they look around and see there’s no longer any public support for their behavior. So tell them. Tell them all.
Killing is wrong. Killing is murder.