Just in time for Christmas, I saw in the news that the U.S. military wants to expand its drone “program”. Hmmm…Murder, Inc. is on the march. It was once said that the speed of human technology far exceeds the ethics that need to be investigated in its use prior to just bringing it in without questions. In other words, before anyone has even explored the moral dimension of drone use to kill people, it’s already been implemented and it’s a “done deal”.
Yes, of course, the wars the U.S. wages are immoral in the first place. However, the use of drones presents us with some serious moral questions that I think are either not being asked, or not being asked loud enough. For instance: These drone “pilots”, for example. Has anyone considered the moral implications of people that are routinely killing other human beings thousands of miles away with just the flip of a switch? It’s probably far easier for them to kill another human being than to purchase a Christmas present right now at their local shopping mall. Or, at least, with far, far less hassle. My question is this: What are the long-term psychological implications of this? The innate knowledge that you have killed a person does not just go away. However, this individual has done so without so much as having entered a cockpit and travelled to the place in question. Nor is it the same as a crew that fired a missile from a ship. They may or may not kill people. The drone pilot KNOWS he has just flipped the switch on another human being. And it was so easy.
I have more questions: On what basis was it decided that it was acceptable to kill Americans with these drones, without a trial? How does one get on that list? Who has that list? How is it compiled? What are the parameters that decide people deserve death? Is this, what, some kind of Star Chamber where some shadowy cabal of deep government officials does a “thumbs up or down” judgment like Roman emperors in the Coliseum? How did this all get by the much-vaunted “checks and balances” that were allegedly in place to safeguard against the acquisition of power such as this? Or have the “checks and balances” quietly disappeared in some silent coup that happened right under our noses while we were basically politically asleep?
Friends, we are not “entering” dangerous territory for liberty. We have long passed the signpost at the border and have already entered it. No one can tell you how to avoid getting on the Ultimate Santa’s List. And who knows if he’s really checking it twice to make sure who’s naughty and nice are not equally targeted for a drone strike to shut them up or cover up a government scandal? If assassination is legal and available at the press of a button or the flip of a switch upon the “sez so” of the government itself without a trial, can anyone really believe this power has not and will not be abused? If there is no transparency to show us how it’s being used, it’s obviously being abused. Things one is ashamed of are kept in the dark, hence the term “underworld” used for organized crime.
Therefore, again, we have people that can sit at a seat and off another person between bites of pizza. Think about that. Here’s a desk with a computer screen and a control stick. The “pilot” has his sodas and snacks and takes a sip of coke and presses a button, and a car with a sixteen year old teen is vaporized. Because this kid was “on the list”. Perhaps the “pilot” doesn’t even know what the “target” did. He’s just following orders, right? And where have we heard that phrase before? Again, there are certainly psychologically damaging consequences for this that we haven’t even dreamed of in conventional psychology and psychiatry at this point. Because the technology has raced ahead of any questions that needed to be openly and honestly examined BEFORE we just went ahead and did this. But, we all know what the government solution will be when there are psychological problems resulting from this, don’t we? Indeed. Here, take this pill. Now go away.
There is a reason why God commanded “Thou shalt not kill”. When a society is as violent as ours is, we can see what the reasons are for that precept. Some translations interpret that as “Thou shalt not murder”. But both conditions are met when issuing death warrants without a public trial where the accused has the right to examine and confront the evidence and accusers. The reason why this commandment exists is because without it, a moral society is not possible. People like to say, yeah, well what about “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”? Did you know that was to limit retribution and avoid escalation and disproportionate violence? In other words, you couldn’t do “the entire village wiped out for an eye”. Jesus also further clarified this saying instead of an eye for an eye, maybe we better think about the concept of letting it go and moving on. The other guy’s eye or tooth won’t bring your own back.
People say, hey, we’re at war, we’ve got to defend ourselves. But has this whole drone use thing truly made us safer? I don’t see that it has especially frightened ISIS to the extent they’ve abandoned their course of action. But there is a hidden danger we’ve forgotten in our rush to be “safe”. You see, once the government acquires a new power, it holds that new power indefinitely. That power never expires. Therefore, the ability to use drones to kill American citizens without a trial will never go away. Think about that and ask yourself if that sounds like anything a sane person would think rational. Why would anyone entrust a government with that kind of power?
Americans that live in cities where these air force bases used by drones are located, will cheer on the news. That air force base is great for the local economy! Think about that for a moment. Killing other people across the globe is great for the local economy. Excuse me, but what happened to the concept of TRADE with other people across the globe being great for the local economy? I want to buy things from people on this planet, not host shadowy entities that kill them. Don’t kill those people in my name. I don’t support that. What do I support? Peace on Earth, and to people, good will.