Allow me to react to the letter, “Don’t honour killers with military ranks” (The New Times, January 13).
Mr. Butare’s suggestion of not honouring killers with military ranks resonates well with me, and I assume many readers will agree with his views. However, we must not forget that murder, termination, neutralising, silencing, taking care of, killing and eliminating are words used to either justify or condemn the act of taking away precious human life.
In this era of militarism and patriotism we are caught justifying the taking away of human life using polemics. The question we should ask ourselves is: when does taking away human life become murder and therefore unacceptable? And who determines whether it was murder, extermination, neutralising or silencing?
Globally, the army is known for its discipline, patriotism and investment in killing machines. There would be no generals if there was no war and the taking away of human life. It is difficult to identify a general who has not been at war, seen death or even inflicted death on humans (let’s say enemies) for a particular cause or objective.
Morally, killers should not be honoured with military ranks but the reality of war requires killing in order to conquer and dominate.
For those who argue about patriotism and defending the nation while killing the enemy, here is a dilemma worth giving a thought. In war one man’s hero could be another man’s cold-blooded killer.