by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
September 28, 2006
KILLING IS NOT A SPORT
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- For one awed moment I longed to go with them - the wild Canadian geese winging southward, honking across my September sky.
The next moment I remembered that, between here and their southern destination, men lurk behind their hunter's blinds to kill the wild geese, stuff them and hang them in their trophy rooms beside the head of the once majestic buck deer with the huge, spreading antlers and the glass eyes.
If geese could talk would they speak of human terrorists; of men who, for a few seconds, get to feel manly by shooting a free, wild thing from the sky? Would they lament human stalkers who kill helpless things, not for food, but for the love of killing?
Show me a newspaper picture of a hunter grinning proudly beside a dead deer flopped across the hood of his pick-up truck and I'll show you a young boy who had a toy gun rammed into his tiny hand at age two.
At five the boy will have a B-B gun, and at around age 12 he'll get a .22-caliber rifle for Christmas.
While the strains of Silent Night, Holy Night are being wafted out by Aunt Sally on the family piano, proud father and trembling son will be at the far end of the back yard joyously engaged in target practice. Should an unfortunate cardinal flit into their territory, red feathers will fill the air and blood will stain the white snow.
I do not believe the need to kill something is a natural characteristic of the male mind. I believe it is conditioned and that it began with the ancient need for food and the need to protect the front of the cave from intruders. Since the women were in the back of the cave nursing the baby and stirring the soup, men became the killers, forgers, stalkers.
Tarzan types perpetuated the original necessity even after the tree house was secure and the nuts were stored against a long winter. Jane types just continued to smile and stir the soup because soup stirring is easier than getting a job trimming trees, forging for nuts, or using your brains to invent a tree-house elevator.
Much later, the first brainy, brave woman stepped away from the soup pot and declared "Excuse me. There is something wrong with this Tarzan-Jane picture.
Women were created for more than making soup. We don't even have the right to vote, nor do we have a safe, legal way of not having 13 children before we're 30. Here. You stir the soup and put the kids to bed, and while you're at it, skin that bloody deer you plopped on my clean smokehouse floor. I don't know why you killed it in the first place. I think you men kill things just because you can. Take the baby. I'm going to a meeting at Susan's house.
What am I trying to say?
I am trying to say we need to examine the psychological reasons behind the man-slaughtering of a Canadian wild goose for the fun of it; the Janes who never question the slaughter; the buying of toy guns for boys and the teaching of young boys that it's fun to pretend to kill things - and people.
We need to go further and ask if there is any connection between the emotional zing a man gets when the Canadian goose comes plummeting to the ground and the feeling the young Air Force bomber gets as he unleashes death on the people in the village below his aircraft.
Much of the bloody respectable slaughter called war is over gods, property and oil, yet something more subtle lurks beneath the psychological surface. If it's fun to kill a bluebird, an elk, a grizzly, could it not be more fun to command the sky in a great airship and push a red button that obliterates all life on the ground within a half-mile radius?
In war, instead of wild geese, mocking birds or deer, we slaughter people. We blow them to postage-stamp size pieces, rake the body bits into the soil, plant flags and forget-me-nots, and call it a victory.
I'd be willing to bet that the inventor of precision bombs, and every one-to-five star general, was once the proud young owner of a toy gun, a B-B gun, a handgun, or a .22 rifle.
Straining to understand the mindset, I imagine it must feel good to hold a glimmering steel toy in your hand that gives you a sense of security in a world that is full of fruitcakes who despise you for the color of your skin, your religious druthers, or the simple slant of your eyes.
What I don't understand is the refusal to recognize that someone, somewhere always has a bigger, better toy. Even if their toy is lesser, they can still sneak up behind you and blow your body parts all over your front lawn.
I believe there is a connection between the need to down a free, wild, Canadian goose and what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and almost any other country on a world map splattered with the blood of what ought to be called a world family.
We have found enough caches of weapons in Iraq to wage war on the universe. Toys for grown-up boys. Tools of power. Need-satisfiers. Ego-inflators.
I do not believe the sadist Saddam, his sick sons and the Republican Guard owned all that nation's mind-boggling arsenal.
I believe that while Iraqi women stirred the thin soup, Iraqi men spent the potato money on toys for boys. Toys that go 'boom' and kill people. Deadly toys the 10-year-old Iraqi boy thinks are the measure of a real man.
American men and their rifle-toting sons are not exempt from this profile.
You'd think since none of their toys have brought any form of lasting peace to the world, men would be inclined to say "This isn't working. We've got to try something different. Let's drop leaflets in Iraq that say it's all right to have a difference of opinion about God. Differences make life exciting.
"Let's say we're sick of slaughter. We're ashamed of our historical record of violence as a solution to world problems, and of our individual need to kill something to make us feel like a man. Let us buy you a beer and we'll all discuss a better way to resolve our differences. Meanwhile, after your women have the right to vote, you'd better step out of their way. Take our word for it."
Games of violence are played by the automatic, unexamined mindsets of grown-up boys. Real men outgrow the need for games and toys - or the need to slaughter the wild geese who just want to get home safely and rest for the winter.
Elizabeth T. Andrews is a former businesswoman and newspaper columnist based in Cartersville, Ga., where she also writes poetry. Reach her at email@example.com.