Given the general acceptance that the murder of children is horrible, as is the murder of civilians and even the killing of military personnel, how can murder by our side be deemed qualitatively different than retaliatory murder by those we oppose?
Do numbers count in determining which murderers are more terrible? Do the victims’ kin care about numbers?
All Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) share as the fundament of their law the Decalogue, including, the sixth commandment’s prohibition on murder. However, the commandments tend to be incoherent, especially the sixth and the ninth. They had to be given the incoherence of the conduct of the “Chosen People” and their god. In both cases, the apparent proscriptions are, in the Hebrew and Greek texts, laced with loopholes, so, for example, religious scholars and government lawyers find killing for state or religious purposes outside the prohibition against killing, and any kind of lie tolerable as long as it does not involve the giving of false testimony against another in a formal sense.
Many non-Abrahamic religions are much more coherent and ethical in their prohibitions against similar proscriptions, including ancient and modern Pagans, but they too have their own pragmatic variants. On the other hand, many common, down-to-earth people find the differences a bit bewildering, especially among the supposedly less educated and less sophisticated segments of the world population and among the lowest ranks of religious orders. Perhaps that tells us a bit as to who is really most fit to lead.
Unfortunately, where it counts most with respect to impact on our lives and the lives of others, among those who take and proscribe action, and today, especially among those who have attained the power, albeit apparently without responsibility, for providing us with the information needed to make our collective decisions, we have apparently inherited the incoherence rather than the stricter ethical aspects of the Decalogue and similar attempts to implement the spirit of so called Golden Rules, whether “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you” or “If it harms none, do what you will”.
That seems par for our course as humans which is probably why we find ourselves in the state we do, where hypocrisy and dishonesty to ourselves as well as to others seems the Real Rule: leaden rather than golden.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved