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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | The Impersonal War

I just saw the video of the attack by American drones on the convoy of Iranian General Qassem Soleiman that resulted to his death as well as probably most of the people in the convoy.

Opposing views on this have surfaced from all over the world. Some decry the attack as a violation of human rights while others say that he was a war criminal, a monster that needed putting down.

I will not talk about this. What I would like to talk about is the fact that war, bad as it is, has already become impersonal.

What stops a human being from killing or committing violence against another?

Having grown up with, and around, people with firearms, mostly responsible gun owners, of course, I have in the past asked myself whether or not I would have it in me to pull the trigger if it is another human being in my sights.

My conclusion has always been that I probably could if my life, or that of my family, is in danger, but why ask the question in the first place?

The fact is that it is the realization that the person on the receiving end is just that, a person, a human being, a son, a father, a husband, someone who loves and is loved, that gives us pause from giving in to our baser animal instincts towards violence.

Wars used to be always fought face to face, or, at the very least, you could see the person you are shooting at, stabbing, or otherwise attacking. With your own eyes, you would see the blood, the gore and the destruction. You were a witness to the grim consequences of your own violence.

However, war has evolved and continues to evolve. While there are still firefights and ground combat operations, in many instances, war is now being fought on a screen like a video game. It is becoming, more and more, impersonal.

From being in the midst of the violence with chaos all around those fighting it, war has become more like watching a movie instead.

How sad are we after watching a war movie?

The fact is that we are not, we are even excited and elated by the action in the movie but only because of the knowledge that everything was make believe.

This is the problem, isn’t it? If war will be fought on screens it will become too easy to forget that it is real, that it causes suffering, death and destruction.

Instead of being seen and felt as flesh and blood, the “enemy” will just be figures on a screen, plain and simple targets, the elimination of which will just be another statistic to chalk up.

When this happens, it stands to reason that the decision to resort to war, to violence and to the destruction it will cause will become that much easier to make.

There will be little, or no thought at all, given to the victims, the widows and orphaned children, the death and mayhem.

The sad question from all this is, once this becomes more than norm than the exception, once we become so “evolved” that our enemies will no longer be seen as human beings, will this be the path to losing our own humanity as well?

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