Murder by any other name…
Murder is the act of putting a person to death, intentionally and unlawfully with malice of aforethought. Murder is the world’s oldest form of conflict resolution, and despite the advances in all aspects of the human condition since the earliest hominids walked this earth nearly 2 million years ago, murder remains the ultimate arbiter of conflict.
As envisioned in the opening scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, our ancestors quickly learned the utilitarian value of tools and how tools could be employed in a more efficient and effective form of murder. In the Books of Moses, Cain used this form of conflict resolution against his brother Abel, and since time in memorium all of the leaders of the world - both legitimate and self-proclaimed - have utilized murder as the most effective means to resolve a contentious issue, dispute or conflict.
Murder has not diminished in frequency since it was first employed, but instead has been elevated to a science and a pillar of all forms of governance from the most isolated tribal constructs to the most powerful nations extant today. Murder has not only been encouraged and sanctioned by clans, tribes, communities, countries, nations and international confederations, but on many occasions murder has been purported to have been sanctioned by God! In fact, not only sanctioned by God, but required by God as an expression of faith, fidelity and duty.
Although we delude ourselves that we have made incredible strides as a species in the areas of art, health, culture, science, and all other aspects of the human condition, we often overlook the fact that our ability to commit murder has been the most prominent and universal accomplishment of humankind in terms of efficiency, frequency and effectiveness. In most societies, the ability to murder is considered paramount in terms of all priorities and initiatives deemed important to the welfare and security of their citizens. Just look at the fact that in our own Republic, the largest portion of our national budget, more than 65%, is expended annually on the ability to protect and defend that has as its’ ultimate deterrent, the ability to murder others. President Eisenhower had it correct in his draft speech in which he spoke of the military, industrial and congressional complex as the engine that fuels, maintains, grows and projects our inalienable right to murder anyone who is a threat to our national security, but additionally in recent years, even those deemed to be a threat such as our invasion of Iraq in 2003.
We could take some solace in the fact that despite these observations, we are blessed to be citizens of a Democracy that is often slow and reluctant to commit murder even in the face of hostile acts by others. We can take some solace that since our own genocides of millions of indigenous men, women and children and the abomination of slavery, we have had no direct involvement in the countless genocides committed since the unspeakable Final Solution of the Nazis.
We have been blameless by our neutrality in the horrors committed on the Africa continent, in Central and Eastern Europe, in the Near and Far East just to name a few. We have gone on record with the prerequisite condemnations, protests and hollow verbal demands to cease and desist the daily rapes, mutilations, displacements, forced migrations, and other atrocities committed by brute nations that do not possess the more advanced means to murder that are sanctioned by those more civilized and sophisticated nations.
Regardless of what we call it, regardless of what justifications we cite, regardless of the legal and judicial procedures we employ leading up to the act – murder by any other name is still murder.