My sister-in-law’s boyfriend has just returned from Iraq after serving for approximately seven months with a Marine unit in Baghdad. He came back boasting a digital camera full with pictures of palaces, towns, buildings, insects, and his buddies from the unit. It all seemed normal until I learned that he had a large amount of photos of dead Iraqis, innocent and insurgence. By his own admission, he specifically picked graphic and gruesome situations for theses pictures. He almost acts like the pictures are cool or funny. Seeing him take pleasure in finding and snapping pictures of the pain and horror of these people’s death really makes me question his understanding of the value of human life. At some level there must be recognition that we are all people, right?
Thus my question, is there any murmur of ethical rights and wrongs from the military upper crust? If not how can the general attitude of Joe ground troop be that of liberation? If I was anywhere and saw someone taking a picture of a dead body and laughing, I would be quite offended or at least disgusted by that individual. I guess the root of the question is does your value judgment really change in a war environment and if so what is the basis of those values?
I am not trying to sound like a tree huger or free lover, but what about the metaphysical factors? Actions and reactions? Basic ideals that govern many aspects of our daily lives, from faith in God to why thinking positively is good for your health. I am not saying we need a troop of philosophers, but the process of understanding life and death is philosophical. Maybe the people we put in combat situations need a little education on the subject? Philosophy at its root is common-sensical and spawned from real life. Metaphysical laws are there, whether or not we know it and/or get them right. Should the military take responsibility for basic ethical guidance in a similar way that work places take responsibility for stopping sexual harassment or schools to stop plagiarism?