An episode of Law and Order got me thinking (again) about something I've thought about off and on for a while. The subject is "Under what circumstances might I commit murder -- or kill someone -- for any reason?"
We all say stuff. "I'm going to kill you," doesn't mean you are actually planning a murder. You are blowing off steam, saying "I'm so angry, I've run out of words to express it." Garry pointed out that television and movies would be pretty dull if everyone behaved sensibly.
We yell at each other. Sometimes there's a slammed door and I occasionally rattle the pots and pans, but we don't throw things. Don't break things. Don't kick the dogs or get in the car and drive like crazy people. We don't binge drink or comfort ourselves with drugs.
We get angry with each other, though. We think about breaking a window. Throwing a piece of crockery. Then reconsider. Having that picture window replaced would cost a bundle. Never mind.
Under no circumstances do you hurt your pets.
In short, we are rational. We are never so angry we can't see the consequences of our behavior.
I think most people have a hard-wired inhibition against killing people. If we didn't, the world would be a much worse place than it already is. You have to train soldiers to kill. Young men won't (normally) kill other young men unless you break down their inhibitions against killing. That's what boot camp is about, right? Right. You knew that.
Garry said something perceptive, smart, reminding me of one of many reasons we're together. He said "That's why it's good we have things like Facebook. People can go there to rant, rage, carry on. No knives, guns, bats. No corpses. Angry people vent. No one really gets hurt. Like the guys on the sports radio stations who call in screaming about the Red Sox. They're just letting off steam. It's just as well there are safe places for them to do it." (Note: That explains Facebook. Nothing explains Twitter.)
Maybe it's because Garry has seen so much violence and the results of violence. It was part of his job. Not the part he liked, but something he had to accept to be a reporter. I couldn't have done it.
As to my original question, what would it take to make me kill another person? I don't know.
Would I kill to protect my life style or for money -- even a great deal of money? No.
Would I kill to protect someone? I'd want to, but could I? I'm not sure I could kill to protect myself. Many people can't and lose their own lives because they hesitate.
Television, fiction, and mythology notwithstanding, most people's instinct is to not kill.
Inconvenient, but it may be the saving grace of the human race.