Back home, grappling with soldiers killing during war
Regarding the Sept. 29 article, "Is anyone ever truly prepared to kill?": I am deeply troubled by the tone of your article about the psychological problems faced by soldiers who kill.
While it conveys the general overall sense that killing is morally wrong, it implies that this deep psychological truth is just another problem to be overcome through counseling or training programs. In short, the thrust seems to be that we must find ways to make killing less damaging to our soldiers, and thus easier.
You talk about the training soldiers received prior to Vietnam to make them less gun-shy (and more likely, I presume, to shoot first and ask questions later) with no mention of a My Lai, and only a passing reference to Abu Ghraib.
A mild point about the need to make sure troops are asked to kill only when it is really necessary (sidestepping the question of whether Iraq fits this definition) is washed aside with some gibberish about the need to "develop moral muscle," which I presume means making soldiers better mentally prepared to do nasty things.
Something is wrong when we stress the need to deal with the fallout of killing more than the need to examine whether the killing is wrong in the first place.
The present administration's policy of keeping this resultant killing problem from the citizenry is unfair and dishonest. We now know that more than a thousand have died in Iraq, but we aren't told about the suffering of their families, nor of the thousands hidden in veterans hospitals.
I was fortunate to have served my time without killing. But while in basic training, I dwelled on the question and came to the conclusion that I would be able to kill if I were in a situation where it was either me or the enemy. However, looking back, I can't recall a bit of training or preparation for handling such a horrible predicament.
We have to do better! We are all involved in this awful war.
Regarding the Sept. 30 article, "Call of the wild: Is it cellular?": Taking a cell phone into national parks is tantamount to bringing a Walkman to the Metropolitan Opera. If a person feels that he or she needs to have some sort of emergency communications device, then the Park Service should offer satellite phones or two-way radios for rent. But you go into the backcountry to get away from the "real world," and cellphones are very much part of the "real world."
I wish I could photocopy James Marshall's Oct. 1 Opinion piece, "Psst, your boss needs lessons in cellphone etiquette," and post it in every restaurant, school gym, and store. I urge each cellphone user to consider whether what he or she is saying should be published in the local newspaper before they decide to broadcast it to listeners who either shouldn't be, or don't want to be, privy to what is being shared. As one woman said recently at a volleyball game to a man with a cellphone glued to his ear, "For goodness sakes, get an office!"
Kate Mullane Oyer
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