Scribbled out and not edited or proof read in any way sorry.
War still happens, but the in modern age it is not the indiscriminate taking of life. It is precise, surgical. Where we must do it, it is done; but it is never a thing to be desired, never a pleasure, that way lies madness.
We’re spies and deceivers, one word in ten that leaves my mouth is the truth, and that only furtherance of the cause. I am committed, but I see people and mix with them and connect, as anyone normal would do, yet I am capable of ending their experiences, who they are.
Most of my work is interference, a word here, a café meeting; changing their direction so they don’t become someone we must dispose of.
Quite an expression, “dispose of” as if our enemies have any less right to live than we do. It’s such an unpleasant euphemism, we dispose of rubbish, our greatest sin has been that in order to facilitate war, and killing, we have reduced the existence of other sentients to something less than we.
There is no high ground here, to remove that long life is to lose an intimate experience of someone that can never be replaced. So many times is history life has been cheapened, but the truth is that the experiences of a lifetime are priceless; every precious thing could not match the value of one life and yet I stand at those crossroads, for he is in my sight now and I cannot see that he will be dissuaded from his purpose.
I will save millions of lives, and prevent the suffering of millions more; and if one life is worth everything, then how much more is that worth when counted in such numbers? Plato had us live in a cave, but our lived experience is of reaching out, connecting, loving and being. Friendship and even enmity, these are contributors to a rich and supple knowledge of the universe and since the thought of another cannot be exactly replicated it is priceless and more, it is precious, however flawed the jewel may be.
The mistake has been that surrounded by a million jewels we have seen none as precious when in fact our riches are beyond measure and it is our individual smallness that is at fault. It is our inability to comprehend the size of things that is our universal flaw, for we cannot contemplate even our friends in their rich fullness, let alone the vast horde of humanity. We have in us such a wealth, but we cannot see it in others, except a very few, and even then, we connect fleetingly, if at all.
We are swallows on the wing, and should we alight, all is lost.
And I am to end this swallow, in my sight, waiting.
I know the monster, he is flawed so very deeply, and yet still glitters. His glitter attracts crowds, they follow him, some in admiration, some in fear; but all with a sense that he will solve their problems, that he is the one who can make it all better, make them shine brightly. The polish will wear thin soon enough, the buffed glow dim to a dullness that is translucent, but not transparent, and that is its own punishment.
Am I punishing him? Is that my motivation? Is he the scapegoat of my soul; he has, will, cause great suffering and therefore I am his executioner? Can I be?
I have resolved to be, but I must divorce myself from his humanity before I can perform the act; it has ever been thus. If we can imagine our enemy then they are human in our eyes and we are vulnerable to them even as they are to us.
He moves, the moment is lost and I must relocate, and my mind begins the process of thinking through option almost automatically. It is like a golf swing, I remember a time when I used to plot and plan, but now my mind moves among options as easily as taking a swing.
It is with this absence of mind that I begin my own movements, I know where he will be, I wonder why I did not shoot; my chance was there, the good I can do.
And it is good. The scale of it, it is millions, but I must take a life.
He moves around the other side of the building, I can still take the shot, in a few minutes now; I have the advantage, I always know where he will be, our knowledge, our research has ever been thus. I take my time, he will be there for some time, no hurry, and of course I must remain concealed.
My training is good, much better than these poor fellows, they will enact the terrible night, and yet I feel sympathy for them, we know now so much now about how they were treated, the drugs they were on. It was a huge population on drugs and drink and in the grip of this demagogue.
I am a soldier, but where I’m from we don’t dehumanize, we don’t train each other to see as a thing. It’s never been ethical, but it’s been the only way for centuries. Legend has it that only twenty-five percent of Vietnam warriors from the US would shoot to kill, they were raised softly and toughened by basic training.
But here’s the thing about basic training, it’s basic. It’s all about a certain competency, arms and how to kill, how to obey.
These are not the qualities of citizens.
Most people want to get on with their lives, live in relative comfort, not go hungry. These are not great ambitions, there has always been enough wealth in the world to feed and clothes and house everyone; it is merely greed that has prevented it. Greed and fear.
Where I’m from we don’t allow that.
That discipline is internal though, it is about education, about knowledge, true knowledge and where that comes from is only internal, because external forces are weak, and internal forces are strong. I know it, and so do you.
So I’m here with my weapon, looking down the scope at the physical manifestation of his mind, ultimately his head, his brain, waiting to rattle a round into his brainpan. It will bounce off the inside of his skull, tearing through the matter, disrupting the connections and bounce again, turning it to mush, parts of his mind knowing even though it will be too fast for conscious thought. There will be no chance, it is cold. I pull the trigger and he dies, all those lives are saved.
I write a report when I return, history reflects what I did, what blood is on my hands. My humanity is in the way.
I’m the sixteenth to fail in my mission; I come home, not in disgrace, but with the understanding of my peers.
We’re not monsters, but as a result, we let monsters live, and the Second World War rolls on, and our history never changes, as we have been sent to do.
Are we weak or strong?
I don’t know.