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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Making Killing a Habit: "Kill, Kill, Kill Without Mercy"

Research after World War II provided the U. S. military with troubling information. Although the research methods and data have been questioned, a very high rate of soldiers in WWII and previous wars seem to have been unwilling to fire weapons in a lethal manner at the enemy. In other words, they would either not shoot at all, or would shoot to intentionally miss the other soldiers.

In order to overcome this "weakness," the process of basic training took on a number of features to overcome what seems to be a natural unwillingness to kill others. One strategy is the use of mantras such as "Kill, kill, kill without mercy," as part of basic training.

A series of articles in the Colorado Springs Gazette, written by Dave Phillips, describes the high level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its violent consequences that have affected soldiers of the U. S. Army Infantry assigned to Fort Carson. These soldiers have been sent into some of the most violent and deadly warfare in Iraq. They have come back to commit murder in the U. S. at a rate 20 times their similar age cohort, which is already the most violent age group in the U. S. Their rate of committing murder in comparison to the full population of Colorado Springs is 114 times as great. These statistics are only for murder, but these soldiers are also committing other violent crimes, including domestic violence, and are caught up in substance abuse at dramatically high rates.

Much of my study and research includes trying to learn how to form Christians toward virtues of love, non-violence, peacemaking, patience, kindness, hunger for righteousness, justice, mercy, humility, etc. Here we see that such virtues are a hindrance to the military objectives of the state. The state-sponsored machine of violence teaches a different set of virtues: among them "Kill, kill, kill without mercy."

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