Sarah McCoy wrote a post for the Huffington Book Blog about “Men of War are Conflicted Characters“. After I read her post, I wanted to leave a comment but couldn’t because that section was closed, so I’m writing it here.
You may want to read McCoy’s post. It’s well written and deals with an author’s dilemma when she has to crawl inside the skin of someone most of the world considers a monster, because he fought for Hitler during World War II and was tagged with the term Nazi.
However, it was McCoy’s conclusion that I wanted to leave a comment for. She said, “I’ll be honest, it was an onerous task to write under the psychological hood of war. I struggled but knew it was essential to the story and my attempt to unearth a truth. War asks us to give up our humanity, but if we do, aren’t we losing what we’re fighting for in the first place?”
I say no. War does not ask us to give up our humanity. It asks us to reveal the horror of our humanity—to let the dark side we spend a lifetime struggling to suppress out of its bloody bag. Inside our skin lives both demons and angels. When an individual fails to keep the lid on his or her demons, we end up with people like Luis Garavito of Colombia who may have murdered more than 400 people. He was a serial killer known as The Beast.
These killers, who cannot control the dogs of war, live all over the world. Instead of listing them, you may want to visit this page on Wiki and see for yourself what happens when the lid comes off on its own and stays off.
In war, troops are trained to open that door and let the beast out. Then they are expected to stuff it back in the box when we come home.
We can’t pretend it isn’t there, because just like night and day, sunrise and sunset, each person has a bright and dark side and it is the dark that we struggle to keep under control.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), the founder of analytical psychology, called it the shadow: The shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self.
There are constructive and destructive types of shadow.
On the destructive side, it often represents everything that the conscious person does not wish to acknowledge within themselves. For instance, someone who identifies as being kind has a shadow that is harsh or unkind. Conversely, an individual who is brutal has a kind shadow. The shadow of persons who are convinced that they are ugly appears to be beautiful. Source: Psychologist Anywhere Anytime.com
Some men that wear uniforms might go to war conflicted, but I think to most trained warriors, it’s just a job. Ethan Card, the main character in my novel, Running with the Enemy, is an example of what I’m talking about. To succeed and survive, he must trust the beast from the dark side of humanity to help him get the job done.
It is the only way to win a war. If you disagree, show me a war that was won by fighting with a set of rules based on modern, humanitarian principals that did not exist a few decades ago.
What do you think was going through the mind of the pilot of the Enola Gay as he dropped “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima and killed 80,000 people in one nuclear flash? Next was Nagasaki with another 40,000 killed instantly. Some children had been evacuated out of the city, for fear of bombing, but many remained. “1,653 primary school children and 74 of their teachers died in Nagasaki.” Source: Ban the Bomb.org
Discover Children as Weapons of Death
Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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