Whether an individual has the ability, the will or the skill to kill is not the question that need voicing, rather simply ask if they have the wish to kill, all actions for good or bad will be controlled or motivated by that single impetus.
Violence even when seemingly sudden or induced by arousal of passion is never the first reaction. Centuries of sensible social barriers have been meticulously put in place to thwart immediacy. There has be a process by which any reactionary physical counter has been ordained and sanctioned. Humankind does not step from tranquility to barbarity without intermediate steps. The mental process might take a day, a week, months, years or even decades. The moving walkway betwixt human and humanity widens at a pace proscribed by circumstance, need, emotional condition or threat, leading us without question or doubt to eventually lay upon whichever particular branch of Robert E Howards macabrely picturesque ‘tree of woe’ might prove convenient or applicable.
One act of violence begets another no matter it’s degree, such is predestination. The first time an individual steps casually on a bug and witnesses its demise they are effectively taking the first step along a pathway that might easily lead to the gulag, genocide, or the death camp. As much as I am inclined to find Buddhism difficult to assimilate this particular tenet of their faith is undeniable. There is no easily definable difference between one death and any other, no matter the character, nature or species of the victim. The ability to kill is unquestionable well rooted within Homo sapiens genetic makeup and once one connection is made reconnection is a far easier possibility.
Of all the species under creation man is the only one known to kill for pleasure, concept or expediency. Slaughter for consumption is not an unusual trait, but strangely we have seen fit to make that most common of demises semi religious in significance, The rules governing such matters are complicated, carefully planned to avoid any unnecessary suffering to either participant, although of course the sacrificial death of one is a quite unavoidable consequence. The mere word ‘butcher’ has extremely negative nuances.
I well remember my ‘vegetarian’ stage, although never rose to that utopian state proclaimed veganism my passion was momentarily heart felt and bordering on proselytist. Guilt lays heavy upon the young, assimilation and a deeply ethical empathy with our fellow earthly inhabitants a likely process in the growing awareness that accompanies the maturing spirit. My particular savior was, as with many another, that particular construct of demonic possession, bacon. The guilt of course remains, assuaged by clever ploys, the no flesh Friday of Catholicism, the sea food diet, although why sea species should be considered less precious than land-based ones is wholly mysterious, the pseudo vegetarianism of dairy or fowl consumption.
Perhaps humanities gift of ultimate choice, the ability to allow or expunge life is in some way a marker of the special nature of our being, that we are entrusted with omnipotence over all else an indicator of our proscribed destiny. Maybe that very ability to say ‘nay’ is the measure of our being.