Saturday, April 26, 2008

What was the tipping point?


Michael Stokely, 23, killed in 2000 a few miles south of Baghdad. Read the comments on The 48th goes to war.

What makes a man prepared to kill?

I remember a conversation with a young man. A devout Christian and youth leader, he lived a responsible life. He wanted to take a year “off” after leaving school to work with street kids in another city through his music. His parents expected him to go to university and continue to live at home.

He was passionate about planes; he wanted to fly or to be a doctor, but he is colour blind. He thought about being a paramedic, being flown in to rescue injured in the mountains. His career options were always to serve others.
Finances were tight at home. Family expectations were for a university degree. The armed forces would provide a salary as well as a degree. He joined the army as an officer cadet. He was 18. He reached a point where he had to face the question about whether he was prepared to kill another human being, or order his men to kill.
He signed.

Another student who wanted to fly looked to the air force to get a degree, to have some adventure, to be with his mates. He was told that he would not be able to fly a particular plane because the length of his leg from his hip to his knee was too long. He would lose his legs if he had to eject. He thought a bit more.
He paid his own way through university.

Neither choice was “right” or “wrong”. But I wonder, when a self-declared Christian and pacifist who wanted to help street kids through music signs that he is prepared to kill, what happened along the way?

Does a culture of peace start with an equitable distribution of wealth? Or does it start when love and respect over-rides ambition?


Kay de Lautour Scott

1 comment:

Bruno Picozzi said...

On the quoted website The 48th goes to war there is the full story of the young Michael killed in Afghanistan.
50 comments can be read after the story, 50 people among many who read the story and felt like they must leave a comment, a sign.
All 50 comments are very similar, very scary, they all play as a chorus to the tribute of this valorous young soldier dead for our freedom.

One of the scariest comments says:
Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers as you walk through your journey of grief. As Christians, however, with grief, we know that we must also celebrate — celebrate your son Michael’s life and the fact that he has reached his eternal reward, resting in the arms of Our Savior.
A soldier is somebody whose work is killing.
I was a Christian some years ago and I read the Gospels and the Bible. I perfectly remember that there is no page of the Holy books where a killer is tributed as a hero.

"Peace" and "love" are empty words without the understanding of what they mean.
We send our soldiers to kill, our Michael and Tom and Bill go to kill. They send their soldiers to kill, their Ali and Mohammed go to kill. But nobody has the right to kill, to harm, to hit, to abuse, to exploit, to impose, to force, to act in such a bad way to create a bad reaction.

"Peace" and "love" are empty words in my mouth if I don't know which of my actions can create bad reactions.
"Peace" and "love" are empty words in my mouth if I can just think that my bad reaction is justified.
"Peace" and "love" are empty words in my mouth if I think that the poor Michael, who went to kill other people, was a hero.
He was just a poor boy who didn't know what "peace" and "love" are. Today, Michael is a poor dead boy.