In today’s post, “I’m Going to Kill You,” blogger Marilyn Armstrong poses the question:
“Under what circumstances might I commit murder — or kill someone — for any reason?”
My immediate response was:
“Normally, I would say I am not a violent person. I have trouble yelling at people, much less killing people. However, if anyone ever hurts one of my kids, there is absolutely no question that I could kill and not regret it.”
At least one other blogger agreed with me. Never mess with any mother’s child!
A little later on, however, I reconsidered the subject. Sure, I could absolutely kill someone who has hurt my child or someone else I love – but the bigger question is: “Would I?”
There’s a huge difference between “could” and “would.”
I hope the situation never arises where I have to face that moral dilemma. Should it happen, however, I suspect that while I certainly could consider murder, something – or someone – would probably stop me.
As another blogger pondered, if you don’t catch the evil-doer in the act of causing harm, would you later be as motivated to cause harm to the evil-doer? I don’t know. I imagine if the criminal went uncaught for, say, several weeks, by then I might have time to consider the consequences of my own choice of actions:
Do I really want to go through a trial and possibly jail? Do I want my family and friends to view me as a murderer, no matter how motivated? Would killing that person bring my child back? Could I be content just sending the criminal to jail? (Should I hope that another prisoner – maybe one with kids of his own – would take care of the situation for me?)
While there would be a strong urge to feel my hands around my enemy’s throat, would it really be worth the consequences? Again, I don’t know. Again, what I could do might not be the same as what I would do.
There are those who would view an act of reciprocal violence, done immediately against someone who has done harm, as understandable and possibly justifiable. Others view any kind of violence as inexcusable. I’m not sure which camp I fall into, and I hope I’ll never find myself on a jury deciding the fate of some mother or father who has killed the killer of his or her child.
(I also hope that I am never on a jury where the accused is someone who has ended the suffering of a terminally ill loved one. That scenario cause me serious conflicting thoughts.)
How about you – under what circumstances could you, or would you, kill another human being? And could you forgive yourself afterwards?
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Images by: A J Cann, and Matt Freedman, respectively
This is one of those questions that isn’t as simple as it first seems. Unless you have a piece missing, killing isn’t something that comes naturally. If we were all natural killers, imagine how awful life would be. Bad enough now, but if we had no hard-wired inhibitions about killing other people … what kind of society could we have? All the questions you are asking yourself prove you are sane. Not a sociopath or psychopath. Rational. Able to weigh actions against likely and/or potential consequence. Good. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
There are those who would disagree that I’m not a sociopath or psychopath – how else could I have created the personality in my mirror blog? 🙂
(Although as hateful as she is, Not CM probably wouldn’t murder someone, if only because she wouldn’t want to risk breaking one of those lovely sculpted nails.)
Thanks for your post, which prodded me into writing mine. It’s not a subject I tend to think about, and certainly not something I would have written about otherwise.
I once killed a guy in an accident – he came around a corner on the highway on my side of the road during the night. He hit me head on while I was on my own side of the road. I was driving a loaded tractor trailer and he was driving a car. I’m sure that is not even close to the feeling of deliberately choosing to kill someone for what they had done – and yet it certainly goes in that direction. And it changes everything in your life afterwards. The world is suddenly different – and it never returns to the way it was. I would describe it as a bit sadder, a little less joyful, a bit less determinate. I was cleared of any wrong doing – even though what happened was obvious by looking at the accident scene there was a process that involved a mechanical insp[ection of the remains of both vehicles and an investigation – my log books, hours of service, past accident history, liscencing, etc, etc. It was all fine and I got a good insurance payout that helped buy my next truck. But things were never quite the same. When I spoke of it to friends, they all said the same thing – if you hadn’t been there, if it had been a car instead then innocent people would have died. You always always know and remember when another life has come to an end because of your actions. In this case it wasn’t deliberate – I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if it was deliberate. I’m like you CM: I can imagine situations where I could kill deliberately, but I don’t know exactly what circumstances would trigger that and I really prefer not to find out. I feel that I could, if necessary kill in a war or to defend loved ones. Beyond that I’m not sure. I;ve never even come close to finding out – at my most angry or upset, I feel i’ve still not come within orders of magnitude of being able to kill. But I sense it is buried in there somewhere.
Interesting and thoughtful post CM . Thank You.
How awful! I’ve been in fender benders and nearly hit bicyclists and pedestrians on occasion, but I’ve never injured anyone, and certainly never killed anyone. I can’t imagine what it would be like afterwards. The only person whose death I’ve witnessed was my own mother, and she was 92 and in hospice care dying of cancer. Thanks for sharing your tale.
Some very deep questions, indeed. Almost frightening to think about.
Which is why I try not to think such deep thoughts. My posts next month will hopefully be much lighter.
Agreed. Very deep questions. As a mother, I offer everything in defense of my children. Heaven help the soul who might think it ok to kill one of them. I think that statement rings true to every mother. If it doesn’t, it certainly should. Had I been in charge of the country on that fateful 9/11 I would have had a knee jerk reaction and every country that harbors or encourages, or in any way favors terrorists would have had a small taste of the anger. I bet they would have been turned over to us “dead or alive” after a few well aimed attacks. It would have been like 2nd grade in Catholic school. Everyone will suffer for the mistake of one.
I don’t know that I would go so far as to take revenge on innocents because one of their group committed a criminal act. However, I would have no problem with hunting down the non-innocents and using them as examples. Thank you for reading and commenting.
I don’t know why that was anonymous either. This is why I don’t have a blog. Sheesh. You are more than likely correct. 9/11 really hit a cord with me. Made me very angry. So angry that thinking straight about it even years later is difficult for me.
Good thing I set the blog up to receive anonymous comments! I understand your feelings, Julie – I think we’re all still angry.
I think I’d be capable of killing someone, but only if I caught them in the act of trying to kill someone I love or if they tried to kill me. I have a brown belt in karate, and I have no doubt that I know how, if given the opportunity. But in any other circumstances, such as after the fact – I’m pretty positive I couldn’t do it.
I think 99% of people *could* do it if they caught the person in the act of harming a loved one – but *would* they? Hopefully, most of us will never find out.
Between your brown belt and my piddling knowledge of MMA, we might make a mean team, Linda. =)
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When my son was born, I asked my husband to teach me how to use our gun. I suddenly felt the fiercest desire to protect my baby (against intruders and in gen’l). Since then, the gun’s been put away (to prevent accidents) but that was one overwhelming instinct.
It was a standing joke in our house, once my girls became young women, that any prospective boyfriend would first have to get past our 90-lb German Shepherd, then past the 40-lb mixed breed, and finally, past Dad’s fully loaded gun upstairs.
Never had a problem – the boyfriends that became significant others became friends with both the dogs and the husband.
The boys came around through the side door of friendship. He he.
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