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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