Will killing ever be outmoded?

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By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Have you heard of the 60’s song Turn, Turn, Turn? It was sung by the five Byrds who reminded everyone of the dichotomy of life. I knew that there was a time to be born and a time to die. I knew that there was a time to plant and a time to reap. But when I heard the part about a time to kill I could not accept it.

But I look around the world and there is killing everywhere. Every creature either kills or is killed. But I could never accept that humans were included in this scheme of things. I never wanted my own children to own guns but I was not able to prevent my oldest son going hunting with his father. I seemed to shut out the knowledge that the meat that I eat once was part of a live animal. My mother raised a few chickens and I faintly remember that they had to be killed if I was to eat my favorite thigh meat. Once after my mother had cut off a chicken’s head that very chicken got away from her and ran around the yard. I tried to bury this memory over the years and finally was able to eat chicken without bringing this to mind.

After I moved to the city, the killing to provide meat for the table was forgotten. City life protects us from the gut level chores that are required to provide food for meat eating individuals. We simply go to the super market and everything is neatly displayed for us to choose from. We don’t have to plant or reap or kill to provide our daily food supply. Unless we tend an urban garden, we must depend upon the local market to provide for us. Not until the recent flu season exacerbated the well being of so many did we begin to wonder if what we buy is safe. We are being warned against lettuce and even spinach as the source of illness. Some years ago we were hearing that we needed to wash fruits and vegetables with a special chemical to remove germs before eating but I had not bothered with that recently.

News programs are constantly reminding us of the killing that continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. To accept that the male of the species is expected to kill in battle seems barbaric. Many young men in Iraq and Afghanistan are not evidently conditioned to face up to their killing responsibility. They either choose suicide or end up with post traumatic stress disorder. My response to this information is that if more young men abhorred killing it might end war.

When will young boys ever be able to be free of the gnawing sense that sometime they will be expected to kill or be killed in battle? When will men give up killing to gain territory or kill in revenge or kill out of anger? Or are we too much like the lower animals to lay aside the act of killing? Even very young boys are playacting killing with toy weaponry as they prepare to play their adult male role which may include fighting in a war. Football is pseudo war with players ready to throw the members of the other team to the ground as rooters scream for blood. The scantily dressed females do their cheerleading dance on the sidelines as their heroes on the field engage in the physicality symbolic of males engaged in war.

Hopefully, one day humans will learn how to live without killing other humans. That will be a great day indeed. Until that day young men are expected to fight in wars if they are called upon and women must deal with the specter of war, waiting for men to return from battle or joining the men in the front lines themselves. Hopefully more men will refuse to fight wars instead of committing suicide during the heat of battle. They will then be free to lead the world in peaceful solutions to conflict.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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