Few conflicts have offered up such a simple lesson for personal security as the war in Iraq has.
Let's say you have a bully in your neighborhood. You feel threatened. You know this bully has the means to hurt or kill you. The lesson: Kill him first.
Of course, you could call the authorities, but they probably would do little more than talk and shuffle their feet. They certainly couldn't guarantee your safety. So don't wait. Get a gun and kill the bully, thereby ending the threat he presented, or seemed to present.
Of course, you may have to deal with his friends and relatives, but that's a risk worth taking. When the police arrive, explain that you were protecting yourself against a threat. Demand that they search the bully's house. Chances are, they'll find the weapons the bully might have used to kill you, thereby strengthening your defense.
Part of that defense will be the argument that the bully could have used those weapons against other neighbors. Thus, you may have saved many lives by taking one life.
True, killing another human may seem like a drastic step, but the fact is, that human might have tried to kill you. You have eliminated that possibility in a firm and practical way. In fact, you have acted much like some governments act. For worse rather than better, might makes right.
When you get to court, you will be judged by people who were brought up in the same violent, hypocritical society you were. They are mostly people who from a young age became accustomed to the proliferation of violence in movies, TV, sports and video games. They have exposed their sons and daughters to the virtual-reality joys of video war games and the thrills of computer battles. They have become inured to everyday wanton violence, to the prevalence of guns, to a world which has always settled too many disputes with blood-baths.
While generally not really interested in any history that can't be summarized in a paragraph or two, they believe in military might. They have the incredible ability to watch acts of appalling brutality on the TV news and to forget what they saw the moment they switch to a basketball game. Having been exposed to violent images all their lives, and having repressed violent urges themselves, they will understand when your attorney argues that you eliminated a potential threat to yourself and family.
They will be particularly sympathetic when your attorney shows what an abusive, unlikable, repulsive individual that bully was. Even if you lack evidence, be sure your attorney implies that the bully associated with and assisted even worse - and far more dangerous - bullies than he was. To make sure you win over any possible holdouts, have your lawyer emphasize that you prayed to God for guidance before you shot the bully.
This will allow any doubters to consult such Scriptural sources as they deem appropriate, on the off chance they feel self-protection needs further justification. This is because it is important for most people to feel that they believe in the Ten Commandments without actually having to obey them.
Thus it has long been possible to kill someone and claim the act has a heavenly seal of approval. Finally, your attorney can argue that you simply did on a small scale what your government does on a large scale. He can cite the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the support of the brutal Shah of Iran, the plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, the "Phoenix Program" executions of as many as 40,000 Vietnamese, the secret sale of weapons to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s ... well, it's a long and impressive list.
History will guide the verdict, following an idea first mentioned by St. Jerome 1,700 years ago: "The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end." In 1898, reporting on British Tommies going into battle for the first time,
correspondent Ernest Bennett observed: "There was a curious look of suppressed excitement in some of the faces. Now and then I caught in a man"s eye the curious gleam which comes from the joy of shedding blood - that mysterious impulse which, despite all the veneer of civilization, still holds its own in a man's nature, whether he is killing rats with a terrier, rejoicing in a prize fight, playing a salmon or potting Dervishes. "It was a fine day and we were out to kill something. Call it what you like, the experience is a big factor in the joy of living."