Is there any scenario in which blowing a person’s head off is not a bad thing? Maybe if you were playing Call of Duty, but I would say that 99% of the time killing someone is not the right thing to do. What about the other 1% of the time? This sliver of justified killing occurs during war and is talked about in American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle. Chris Kyle, as most people know him, was played by Bradley Cooper in the box-office hit American Sniper-directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie was sweet and I would recommend watching it. The book, that Chris Kyle wrote, went much more in detail about his experiences in the military and the culture of the Navy Seals. In total, Chris spent 10 years in the military where he experienced several tours of duty in Iraq. During those 10 years he accumulated 11 medals and 160 confirmed sniper kills-the highest number in American history. He was a fiercely patriotic man who cared about his country more then his family; being in battle for him was the ultimate experience. Reluctantly, not wanting to give up service to his country, he left the military to take on the role of husband and father to his two children. In civilian life, he started a business that trained police and security organizations how to hone their sniper skills. In his free time Chris volunteered to help veterans with PTSD and other war related injuries. In 2013, he and his friend were killed by a former soldier who was suffering with schizophrenia and PTSD.
Chris was no angel and there has been a lot of controversy about his alleged experiences. Some of the things written have been found to be lies but these lies related more to his personal life than his service in Iraq. I believe he got a little to enamored by the spotlight and started to go overboard with his storytelling. The thing that fascinated me most about Chris was his black and white view of the world. He said in the book that he feels no guilt from killing all the people in Iraq and feels confident that he can stand before God and justify himself. He describes the Iraqi insurgents as “evil” and that they were “savages” that deserved to be killed; every shot he took was done to protect his fellow service men and his country. Were the insurgents truly evil? The insurgents were trying to defend a way of life that they believed in and eject a foreign invader-the United States. Would we classify ourselves as evil if Iraq invaded the US and we tried to defend our way of life? Is there justification to kill an “evil” person outside the realms of war? Why does a declaration of war by a country make killing acceptable? I have a ton of respect for the men and women who fought in the Middle East and they did kill a lot of people who would gladly hurt Americans. I think we need to understand that we are very similar to the insurgents. We have strong opinions, we want to protect our way of life, we believe in a cause, we would defend ourselves, and a large proportion of us would take advantage of others if allowed the opportunity. Why am I drawing these similarities? I think the more we see ourselves in our enemies the more we can understand that human nature is universal, that we need to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, and we need to think about how war creates hate. I commend Chris because he did his job but I don’t commend the US for going to war in the first place. Sadly, for every insurgent Chris killed a new insurgent was born because hate breeds hate-perpetuating a never ending cycle of division between groups.