I’ve just finished reading this book by David Bellavia and John Bruning, House to House. There was this part where Bellavia was engaged in a brutal hand to hand fighting with one of the Iraqi insurgents, and Bellavia did a fantastic job describing the account, (it might be too graphic for some readers) but it gave us readers an excellent glimpse into his psyche and the mental thoughts he had when he was killing this insurgents. (He survived the ordeal, obviously.) There was this part where he described an attempt to gouge the insurgent’s eye and he couldn’t bring himself to do so.
The entire account of his hand to hand fighting experience leaves me thinking.
I often read in self defense book or some other suggestion that offer to poke the eye of your assailant. Eye gouge and other below the belt stuffs. But here we have a professional soldier, battle hardened infantryman, in his account, couldn’t bring himself to do it. Not even in an adrenaline charged mental state, he couldn’t stab his thumb into the assailant’s eye. So how can a book prescribe an ordinary, civil person to do the same?
All those stylish skills and deft moves didn’t work. It was a brutal and messy way he took to kill that insurgent. Despite of that animalistic approach to killing, Bellavia still retains that human in him not to eye gouge. I mean at then end of the day, what is the difference? He is going to kill the insurgents isn’t he? so what difference does it make if he eye gouge? Yes it does make a difference.
He has long since left the military, and accordingly to him, he never had a clinically diagnosed PTSD experience. Well, perhaps had he eye gouged that insurgent he might not have such a peaceful sleep anymore. It is the things that we do against our nature that comes back and haunts us. No matter how brutal the conditions is, we need to remember our humanity. that is what separates us from the animals. Honour, loyalty, pride, all thrown out of the window, be a human being, that is all that is ask of us.