Bad Habits

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Years ago, a respected colleague told me that she was watching hard-core pornographic movies in her psychology class at the university. I was shocked. Why would a church member, a happily married mother of three, a nursing supervisor be watching such evil garbage? Why would a university sponsor such a thing? The purpose, she said, was to desensitize candidates for a Masters Degree in Public Health to the seamy side of society. They would be exposed to worse and they had to be able to cope with it in a reasonable manner.

I got to thinking about that. How many things am I insensitive to? Driving a car, for one. Here I am sitting in an insulated and air-conditioned steel box hurtling down the road at seventy miles per hour. I don’t feel any sensation of moving at that speed. I listen to music. I am not afraid. But I should be afraid. My nervous system is not constructed to respond to danger at that speed. During the Nineteenth Century, people on trains were terrified of moving at twenty miles per hour. But they got used to it. Me too. I acquired the habit of driving.

How about income taxes? That was a shocker to the folks who got hit with it for the first time. Many fled the country. But for most of us today, the income tax is a painless deduction from our paycheck. When we calculate our consumption needs, we don’t even bother to think about the deductions, we think about what we’ve got left. It’s become a habit.

What about so-called defense spending. Of course we don’t think about that, we have no control over it. We don’t see our income winging its way to Washington and we don’t see what Washington does with it. They talk in billions, we think in thousands, or hundreds, or twenties. How can defense spending mean anything to us? So we ignore it, out of habit.

Are we sensitive to killing? Now I had some first-hand experience at killing steers and chickens and pigs as a farm boy, so I know how its done. I’ve never killed another human being, however, although in my profession I’ve witnessed thousands of deaths. I suppose there are a fair number of Americans who have had first-hand experience at killing human beings; I can’t imagine how they might feel about that. I wonder how people overall feel about killing human beings?

We see killing every day on television drama. We hear about killing every day from the media. Some government flunky, or thug, preaches at us about the killing rules of the day, every day. Yet, for us common folks, the rule is: Thou Shalt Not Kill. And we don’t. Somebody else does. Are we sensitive to that?

I don’t think so. For how many generations have the American people been forced into orgies of killing by the State? I count five. One generation’s experience has been passed to the next with heroic rituals! Flags wave and trumpets sound: We slaughtered them! And the children march with toy guns. Until they grow up, when they march with real guns. Then some sanctimonious State hypocrite announces a new target for killing on television, only this time it’s US. We sit numb. No, we are not sensitive to killing.

Let’s break this vicious habit.

Robert Klassen [send him mail] is a medical technician and writer. Here’s his web site.

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