There was an incident in the Ukraine yesterday. Various videos of it went rapidly viral on Twitter and YouTube and it is included at the end of this post.
What the video shows is a car simply driving down a road. Then a Russian tank rapidly enters the same road in the opposite direction and in the opposing lane. Suddenly the tank swerves, hits the car and crushes it seemingly flat. In the background are screams of horror near the person shooting the video, taken from the vantage point of an upper story apartment. The incident was also captured by other cameras.
We have thus witnessed what appeared to be a cold-blooded murder and a war crime. In the end it turned out that the driver of the crushed car miraculously survived the attack. It took a crowd of bystanders quite some time to pry him out of the remains of the car with their hands, hammers and pry bars. How badly the driver was injured is unknown.
What is known and has been photographed from multiple angles is a tank going out of its way to smash and crush a civilian car. It is simple to chalk this up as the evil of war. You can clearly see the tank driver intentionally maneuver to hit this car. It was no accident, the intent was clear.
The enduring questions of war are, “How does a normal person decide to become a random killer of civilians? What has seized his normal social human intellect to become a callous murderer?” This tank crew was operating from the viewpoint that they could do anything they wanted and there would be no repercussions. How stupid would they have to be to think, in a world where cameras practically grow on trees, that no one would witness, their crime?
But even if no one had seen this incident—and there are certainly many, many more that are not so well documented—this tank crew knows what they have done. Every soldier in every war who has ever committed an atrocity on whatever pretext, knows what he has done. And each and every one is haunted by this for the remainder of their lives.
The effects of that haunting takes many forms: alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, what is called PTSD, murder, suicide. For these people the atrocities they committed never go away. Their damaged selves are part of the detritus left behind after the bombs stop falling and the guns stop firing. It really matters not what side, the taking of lives leaves a mark indelibly on the souls of soldiers.
This is the evil of a war that lasts for generations. But this is not the evil that began it all, it is just the perpetuation and the lasting human wounds etched into the survivors.
The propaganda that convinces men that other men just like them are different in some way, that they have ill will in their hearts, is the real evil. The evil that starts the cycle.
A soldier goes home after the war complaining about those who shot at him and whom he killed, combatant or non-combatant. He drinks. He hits his wife or son or both. He invents a name or borrows one to describe the “others” he has wronged. His son goes to school and becomes a bully, hitting other children and calling them that same name. Later the boy grows up and becomes a political operator, railing against these same others since they were “obviously” the source of his torment as a child. And the cycle of evil rolls forward by this contagion, generation to generation.
And thus people who are actually good in their hearts can be brought into agreements that allow them to be manipulated into evil. After all, they are told they are just attacking symbols not people.
We are ALL human. There is no other race of Mankind but human. And any characterization otherwise always leads to insanity and death.
The sooner we recognize this, and act from that basis, the sooner we can stop and prevent the insanity of war and the perpetuation of evil that it always brings.