disaster show “capacity for cruelty” (2006.01.07)

January 9th, 2007  |  Published in Disaster

We played with John Anderson, Morrow, and Wastleand DC.

For the slideshow, I projected this video from YouTube with a digital projector:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9A_vxIOB-I

and this text (from a soldier’s blog that I came across when excerpts were published in the copy of Best American Nonrequired Reading that my brother gave me as a Christmas gift) with the overhead projector:

APRIL 29, 2005 – MEMORIES OF DEATH

THERE is good out there even though at times it all seems bleak. There is also death. How many have dealt in death? Some would call it murder. Well, I have a confession to make, my platoon and I have had over 192 confirmed kills during our first deployment here (during the war on our way to capture Baghdad). We targeted people and then they just disappeared. Why? They were going to kill me. I had my orders and they had theirs. We were mortal enemies because we were told that we were. There are some who would tell me to not think about what I had to do, or it will drive you insane.

For me, however, I can’t help but think about it. They were men like me. Some of them were even conscripted into military service. What made them fight? Were they more scared of their leader than of us? What has become of their families? How could I forget or not think about all that I have done? Should I wash my hands of it all like Pontius Pilate? I think not. My choices have been made, my actions irreversible. So live I will, for we were the victors, right? The ones who survived. It is our victory, and our burden to carry, and I bear it with pride and with the greatest of remorse. Do you think that there is a special place in hell for people like me? Or will God judge me to have been a man of honor and duty?

When they told us how many we had killed my first thought was pride. Pride for such a high number. How does one feel pride for killing? Two years later and my thoughts are changed, transformed if you will. Those were just numbers so long ago when I first heard them. Now, however, I know that they were men with families like mine. It is crazy that we humans can be so destructive. There are people out there lining up to become martyrs to kill themselves in order to kill others, and yet you still have people who fight tooth and nail to live for just one minute longer. We are an oxymoron, humanity that is. What makes someone look down the sights of a rifle to take aim on a fellow human being? What does it take to pull the trigger? I have done those things. I have done them and would do it again if it meant returning to my wife and children again. Some of you may think that I am a beast and you are probably right. I am. I will kill, I will take aim and fire, I will call fire upon you from afar with rockets and bombs or anything I can get my hands on if it means that I will see my family one more time.

But, I will also choose to dwell on and live with my choices. I chose to enlist as a soldier. My time has been served and now it is becoming overtime, but I won’t just run away. As much as I would love to just be done (and rightly so now that I have been involuntarily extended). One thing is all I ask of you. I ask that you not judge me. Let me be my own judge, for my judgment is harsher than any of you could give me anyway. For I will always have those memories to remind me of what I have done and what I am. Please know that I pray for peace every day, that and to see my family again.

From A Soldier’s Thoughts (available misoldierthoughts.blogspot.com) Zachary Scott-Singley, the author of this blog, was a sergeant in the 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in Tikrit Iraq.