Sunday’s Wisdom 334: The Limits of Bloodshed

“Blood isn’t always the answer.”
– Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Season 1, Episode 4, “The Whole World is Watching”

For as long as humans have existed, we have struggled to survive. It is the way of nature itself to kill or be killed, to eat or be eaten, and that has been imprinted on human nature for longer than our recorded history. Something threatens us, hurts us, takes what is ours, we strike back and we kill it. The only times we beware, avoid, or appease, instead of kill, is when we literally can’t kill it. That’s why every tyrant in history has been so invested in keeping their subjects afraid of them.

When Sam says these words, he is saying it whilst practically surrounded by people for whom blood is the only answer they really know.

On the one hand, there is a group of who want to live peaceful lives, but have been displaced by recent catastrophes and abandoned by the powers that be who promised to help them. (side-rant: do not trust in far-away powers that be for help) For them, they’re trying to help people, but they’ve engaged in unsavory acts which are escalating in violence and it’s turning their arguably-just cause into just another a bloodbath. And this group is, in turn, being hunted by a shadowy puppeteer who fully intends to add their own blood to the slaughter.

On the other hand, there are the legitimate authorities of the world who do not like their boat being rocked. These sent some of their finest soldiers to apprehend or kill the pesky little revolutionaries for them, and when one of these soldiers is killed in action… well, his comrade responds with primal, murderous, merciless fury. One of his own has been taken, and he immediately seeks blood for blood.

And then there’s yet another rogue element in this entire equation. The man that Sam is speaking to in this scene is one who has already demonstrated his capacity for seeking bloodshed in answer for his own losses. In this particular moment, though, he expresses a desire for the wholesale destruction of those who possess unnatural advantages over their fellow man. What he refers to is superhumans, but if one were to extend that to its logical conclusion, then it would include all other artificial advantages like advanced technology, skills acquired through a lifetime of training and experience, and, of course, money and social connections. Ultimately, he is not being so logical, and is merely playing god in another bloodstained way.

Sam is the one who understands that, at some point, spilling blood doesn’t solve every single problem.

The people who are trying to help could have gone down a different path, away from all the terror and fear and blood, and probably accomplished more for it, for a lot less risk.

The man who goes murderously crazy when his friend is killed in front of him has every right to his anger, but he had no right to commit murder himself, and it will only make things worse and worse.

And as appealing an image as it might be to anyone when they envision a world cleansed of all those who they deem to be threats in some way, there is no way to accomplish that without becoming a monster that is pretending to be a god. Which, even if one were willing and able to do that, it still wouldn’t make for a lasting peace.

There is no real peace without making a much more human connection. We have to realize, on a fundamental level, that we really are all in this together.

Sometimes the answer lies in helping each other, instead of hurting each other.

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