Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Can One Be Human?

[WARNING: One portion of this entry has some graphic description of a situation. Due to the graphic nature, readers may choose to skip the description section. This section has been denoted in a purple color.]

When one behaves in a manner that is so taboo people do not hesitate to refer to the individual as “not human.” One who is human simply can not bring one’s self to behave in such a manner. Or can they?

Obviously the individual is human, as one who eats and breathes is a human being, but what about them seems so “un-human-like?”

Do we as society have standards on what behaviors make someone “human” and what behaviors are below the standard for a “human” to participate in? What could lead an individual to such, “below the standard” type behaviors? Could one possibly choose to behave in such manners?

Many times illness can be assigned in order to “write off” the behaviors. Psychotic states can lead to some rather taboo behaviors. In court cases, insanity is pleaded in order to explain some taboo behaviors. It’s unfortunate that one’s mental state can lead to taboo actions that case harm to another, but it happens.

But is there always a sense of mental illness that causing one to be dysfunctional to the point of un-humane behaviors?

Is killing another human “below the standard?” Depending on the specific situation that is coming to your mind right now, will sway your response.

1.) A young teen who is trying to be initiated into a gang must find a nearby house, break in and kill the occupants. The nearest house is a poor elderly couple who happened to be laying in their bed reading. The young teen barges in and puts the gun to their heads. The teen is one of them now…

2.) A mother can not handle the urges anymore. She can’t make things go back to normal as much as she longs for the return of peace and quite. She gives in. She draws her children’s bath water and tells them “no toys this time, kids” as she puts them in the tub. She has them lay down in the water so she can wet their hair. She doesn’t let them come back up…

3.) A young boy leaves for boot camp two days after his high school graduation. 15 letters home and 6 months later he is sent off to Iraq to “defend his country.” In the mid-day heat he peers out of his bunker to see five Iraqi soldiers charging in his direction. He aims and fires. He saved his and his comrades lives…

The first two scenarios would be uncalled for behaviors. How can one be humane and still shoot a poor innocent elderly couple? How can one drown her own babies? These actions are un-human. However, killing out of self-defense is a different story. Right? The Iraqi soldiers who were approaching were not innocent, right? They had intentions to harm, right?

Or is it about training. Do one’s behaviors rise above the “standard” when one has been trained to kill for a purpose? A human killing another human is “justifiable” behavior then, making it…human?

I don’t know, but I bring all of this up because I recently viewed what I thought was “un-human” behaviors. I repeated questioned, “What could bring these individuals to being able to behave in such a manner?” It just seems so inhumane…

Recently a friend of mine and I decided to view some “beheading” videos online. I know it sounds disturbing, but this friend and I do not easily get grossed out and we typically have no problem with some morbid humor, so we were curious to see what a beheading actually looked like. I had always heard the Iraq beheadings were online and actually had tried to view them back when they were first known about; however, I was never able to find them. My friend told me she had been talking about the beheading videos with some friends recently, so she had gone to view them and told me I should see them, because I wouldn’t believe how it is really done. So we went to view some…

A beheading is not like how you might think. The videos we viewed were definitely not the quick swing of a sword and “drop off” of a head. Nope…

The beheadings we viewed were nothing so simple. They were more brutal. The individual being beheaded was blindfolded and laid on the ground, typically on their side with their hands and feet bound behind them (knees bent). The executioner would then grab the individual by the hair or upper part of the head and then take a small knife, no sword, and begin sawing away at the throat area. There is no, one “quick swing.” It is a sawing method that can take some time to get all the way through the individual’s neck. And yes, there were occasions when the knife would appear “dull” in the sense that there was some definite struggle to get all the way through. These were the times when I really would ask myself, “how can an individual do this to another human?!?”

How is it that a man can be so brutally cruel to another man? How can one do such an un-thought-of behavior?! While shooting another individual is not necessarily “justified” in my mind, I can see how the behavior could be excused from being an “inhumane” act.

Shooting someone does not require the assassin to even touch the individual. In a sense, they can “blame” the death on the gun. The blood does not even spill on to the hands of the one behind the trigger. However, in a beheading, the executioner is covered. The blood across his hands is the proof of his actions. While a gun can kill with one single action, the pulling of a trigger, the action of killing by beheading is more “involved.” How can one bring their self to such involvement?!

Are these people born this way? Can a human be born to behave in such an “inhumane” manner or does it have to be taught? Are these killers “brainwashed?” And if so, how can you “brainwash” someone to be able to perform such a violent act on another creature of his own kind?

I do not understand it. And what interests me even more is the thought that the “killers” in these situations are probably fully functioning individuals in the sense that they can behave as normal as you and I, but when directed by their authorities, they can behead another individual without it affecting their current state of being.

Wow…

2 comments:

julesforstenholm said...

Wow. That's my reaction to the beheading stuff. I didn't realize that was the practice. Not good, not good. That's not humane, in my opinion; however, I can't explain why I think that.

Humans kill, so I guess they're humans, but it's just impossible for me to grasp the ability to injure someone or take the life of someone, especially in such a gruesome manner. I don't even like to hear bugs crunch when they get squashed...

People who can do that make me wonder about their mental state... perhaps a similar wondering for you, future doctor!

FeedingYourMind said...

"future doctor"....HA!