Saturday, 4 August 2012

Losing One's Moral Presence

The Boston Review has a harrowing piece on the life of an IDF soldier at a checkpoint in the West Bank:

That the soldier’s power exceeds any rule does not render him powerful but, rather, destroys him. Being “above the law” drains the soldier of his defining principles. At times, he might feel he is passively witnessing the person he has become: his hands, signaling arbitrarily “go ahead,” “wait over there,” “shut up,” “show me this,” “show me that”; his voice uttering words: “I don’t care, your permit has expired,” “have a good day,” “where do you think you’re going?”

Some time will pass before it will occur to him that by failing to distinguish between the hostile and the innocent he might not only be failing his mission to defend his country but also failing values and sentiments that he was raised to uphold and act upon. But how can that be, he asks himself, if all along he had every intention of doing what is right? He was determined to defend his country while remaining humane and observing his moral compass. How could he have failed so miserably in both? 

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