A week after a U.S. soldier murdered 16 Afghan men, women and children, it’s mostly become a non-story among people I talk with. The news stories I see have taken a tone that seems to be looking for a way to excuse what happened, asking what could have “caused him to snap” or speculating about brain injuries from previous combat.
Honestly, I’m a little tired of people looking for excuses. What if this had been an Afghan soldier and he was in this country for some military reason — training, perhaps — and he had taken a weapon to a few homes near where he was based and murdered 16 Americans. Do you think we would all be looking for things to blame it on then? Would we be wondering about how his previous injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder or whatever had made him “snap”?
No, we would have a country full of angry people who were ready to kill Afghans and and were ready to blame all Muslims for what had happened. Why can’t we understand how serious it is when we send soldiers into other countries and they do bad things?
Every time there have been instances of U.S. soldiers committing such atrocities, it seems that there are similar justifications. When are we going to learn that when you train people to kill and then dehumanize the people they’re fighting, this is what we’re going to get? And when are we going to learn that the sooner we get out of these countries we’ve invaded, the sooner we’ll quit making new enemies?
Is a lot of success in life predicated on ignoring reality? I certainly ignore reality sometimes. I complain about it when others do it sometimes. But I seem to see some people become more successful by ignoring reality and plowing ahead despite the fact that it doesn’t make sense to do so. Is having a good understanding of reality actually an impediment to success? Even if it makes you more insightful about the world and about people, does understanding reality cause you a different sort of pain? If so, is it better to be able to ignore reality? Or is it better to have insight? I’m really not sure. It’s just a passing thought I’ve been toying with again.
You might be surprised at how much email I get these days from people who read the site and write to me instead of commenting online. I really wish more people would post comments instead of just writing to me — because some of them deserve a wider audience — but I love getting your email. I feel guilty sometimes that I don’t have time to answer all of it more extensively, but I read it all. And for those who take time to send nice things just to tell me that I make you think or that you just enjoy what you read, let me say that means more to me than you know.
One of the bigger surprises I’ve had over the last 10 months, though, is how many people are willing to send really nasty messages to me just because they disagree with me. The funniest part about that is that when I write about something controversial, I frequently get angry email from people on both sides of an issue — with the people on both sides of the mainstream accusing me of being one of the other side. Is that just what happens when you don’t cheerlead for either side of the mainstream?
Speaking of comments, I’ll remind you again that you’re welcome to friend me on Facebook if you have an account there. There’s a lot more that goes on over there that you never see here and there’s a lot more discussion of articles that never spills over here.
On the front page of the local paper Sunday, there was a “tease” on the front page for an article on the business page: “Area’s best-selling vehicles driving sales.” Is anybody else as surprised as I was to hear that the best-selling vehicles were contributing the most to car sales? Insightful, huh? Or am I missing something obvious?
I found a quote Friday that I really like. I’ve known plenty of people who come up with new ideas and then protect their ideas like crazy, because they’re afraid someone is going to steal their “brilliant idea.” Sometimes those ideas die because they’re unwilling to be open enough with the idea and sell it. When I was younger, I felt a little bit this way. But I’m going to leave you with a quote from the late computer scientist Howard Aiken about why there’s no reason to worry about protecting a really new idea:
“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”
I think he was right.