Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Duty

Two things  came together yesterday.

I was researching Albert Ball VC for the very jolly communitywings_n_wires (which honours the planes and pilots of WWI.)  Ball was a sweet and madly brave young man  who, when he wasn't downing German planes, cultivated vegetables in a little garden he'd made on base. Writing home, he would say things like , "Oh, won't it be nice when all this beastly killing is over, and we can just enjoy ourselves and not hurt anyone. I hate this game, but it is the only thing one must do just now...When I am happy I dig in the garden and sing."

Later I was watching a documentary film about the first intifada. Young Israeli servicemen were voicing exactly the same sentiments as Ball:- it's mad that we're guarding these settlers whose ideology we hate, but it's what we have to do and we wouldn't have it any other way. They were filmed singing a song about how when their tour was over they'd go and dance and smoke joints on a beach in Goa.

War is this tribal thing. People get locked into it. They hate what they're doing, acknowledge its pointlessness, but believe it's their duty to carry on. Duty becomes a value that over-rides every other moral consideration.

Perhaps genetic scientists will one day be able to switch off this "Duty" gene. Would there be worldwide moral collapse if they did ?

 

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