ISIS video shows captured Jordanian pilot burned alive.
Japanese hostage beheaded by ISIS.
ISIS Militants decapitate American Journalist.
ISIS video shows a young boy executing two men identified as Russian spies.
The boy, barely ten-years-old, holds a Glock 9mm handgun freshly racked with one bullet in the chamber and sixteen more in the magazine; certainly enough to kill the two Russian captives kneeled in front of him. Any gun owner will tell you that the boy knows the proper technique for shooting a handgun. Standing by the boy is a man, perhaps his father or an ISIS militant. The two of them, the child and the man dressed in camouflage green, stand without emotion, as if they have been programmed to kill. A picture of before and after is what I see. The child, a home-made version of the adult, wasn’t born that way. Creating hate is a centuries long practice without an end in sight. If taught to hate, a new-born baby becomes a killing machine.
Begin with a two gallon pot partially filled with crystal-clear water. That’s how you make a monster. Cover and bring to a rapid boil. Lower the temperature to medium, remove the lid and add all sorts of unsavory things — black eyes, broken bones, and deep-cut gashes; chunks of depravity, feces, and regurgitated vomit; unwanted sex with stone-faced monsters, ignorance, and hate-filed stories told when day becomes night. Now add knives, guns, bombs, and all kinds of explosive devices. Reduce the temperature to low and let simmer throughout the childhood years and well into puberty. Ingest a tablespoon of the liquid each day and swallow hard. So much evil. So bad that one can barely swallow, let alone speak. In time, the liquid becomes a dark, thick substance covering the bottom like a freshly-laid blacktop on a country road. Purity into evil, a new-born baby into a hate-filled monster, that’s what you’ve done. No heaven filled with beautiful virgins for you.
Behavior is controlled by an individual’s concept of reality, and when viewed collectively, define who we are as a nation. Reality is built on our genetic makeup and life’s experiences — nature and nurture. Developmental biology tells us that we are a combination of the two. Nature tattoos us with a genetic makeup – DNA – while nurture is a product of what we see, hear, smell, and touch, and the countless life experiences that mold our core. From the beginning, we are organisms with a genetic blueprint that continually interacts with our environment causing change to occur as we move from conception, to childhood, to adulthood, and finally to death.
“Even the most unrepentant assailants, the most cold-blooded murderers, the most sadistic of serial killers, were once infants. There was a time when they could barely hold a rattle, much less a gun; when they smiled for Christmas portraits and giggled at peek-a-boo; when they were afraid of fireworks, needed help to feed themselves, and wore shoes no bigger than ring boxes. What happened? What inner or outer factors — parents, schools, genes, morals, abuse, television, neglect, stress, attention deficits, self-esteem, temperament — has the power to transform innocence into violence? The answer provided by modern neuroscience is ‘all of the above'” Biology of Violence by Debra Niehoff
While neuroscience explains how evil evolves, we are less clear on how to contain, reduce, or eliminate it from our society. The evil/hatred perpetrated by terrorist groups sends chills through the hearts of others. We, as Americans, have chosen to kill these hosts of hatred. A war without end, that’s what it is.
Why do some people hate us so? I thought, or at least I’ve been told that America is God’s favorite country, a shinning example of what other regions should emulate. Perhaps we should take a second look and climb down from our “high horse” and study our ways. Remember the Native Americans who occupied the land we now call America; people we moved to reservations while we sucked the land dry. A historian is better qualified than I to explain some of America’s missteps that are too often forgotten.
Some would argue that the invasion in Iraq was based on lies; an unforgivable mistake that spread hatred throughout the middle east. A ten-year war, projected to be over in a matter of weeks, and paid for with Iraqi oil. Liberators, that’s what our leaders said we would be. Instead, we hear stories of American torture; Abu Ghraib prison where sexual, humiliating photos of prisoners were taken for all the world to see; and Guantanamo Bay Detention Center (GITMO) where many captives were held for years without charges or evidence of wrongdoing. While I love my country, I sometimes feel shame.
Our actions are often times led by knee-jerk legislators with hair-trigger mouths. Who can shout the loudest and gain the most attention sometimes dictates our actions. Thoughtful decisions are portrayed as weakness, and overpowered by the constant noise. Stay strong, watch our backs, nurture friendships, continue to kill. That’s what we do. But if we want to leave a legacy of good over evil, we must think before we act, and avoid the “Iraqi mistakes” of the future. Our children deserve to live on a more peaceful planet.
We’ve done many wonderful things that go unnoticed but make me proud. The Peace Corps and Americorps are note worthy. Look to our work in West Africa to contain and eliminate Ebolia. And if diaster strikes another country, we are the first to offer help. Maybe a historian should list our good qualities as well. Good trumps evil. Stay strong, watch our backs, nurture friendships, and kill only when necessary. Make God proud of America.