ethel’s words

Click your browser’s “Back” button to return to SmashingIkons

Mistakes That Kill

Again and again I hear the erroneous, incorrect, wrong statement “the killing of four student protestors at Kent State...”

No! The famous four students were NOT protesting anything; they were walking across campus--not at all associated with the protestors. They should not have been shot even if they were protesting, of course (although there were many persons who thought dissenters should be killed), so why is the distinction important? Because it is another of countless examples--though minor--of what happens when misinformation, guns, hatred and fear get together.

The troops had guns so they could kill protestors who “misbehaved”--whatever that might have been. They were trained to kill. They were deployed to “contain rioting”, implying “rioters”. Governments are terrified of “riots”, especially when there is broad discontent. Riots are contagious.

We are not likely to be free of mistaken killings, mistaken wars, mistaken executions so long as there is hatred. Where there is hatred there is fear, and when fear is churning, blunders are a certainty.

History is used as a tool of power; thus, trying to get it straight is a lifetime challenge. The best we can do is to learn to doubt, to analyze, to recognize provocateurs, and try to free ourselves from hatred and prejudice. Nations would find preemptive wars difficult to sponsor in the absence of hatred. Without a means of disseminating lies and barring accuracy, nations would have difficulty in engendering support for any kind of war.

If we seek enlightenment and accuracy, if we hope for diminishment of violence, we must not be tolerant towards institutional superstitions--both subtle and blatant; the lies and the power-wielding, that support injustice, war, and oppression. We must recognize the sources of Power.

Ethel C. Hale