Cops, Military, and their bosses. That sort of stuff. If one of your duties/ abilities has ever been to detain others, and you have possessed authority to use deadly force, I am looking for a discussion. Mostly, I am just trying to get into the heads and thinking of soldiers, whether civil peacekeepers (cops) or hardcore warriors (military), and everyone in between. This has a lot to do with my epic sci fi thingy story I am working on, and addresses a major theme I have struggled with since I first started writing it. Not being someone who has been in this situation, I have relied on the not-at-all reliable portrayal of such persons through media and works of fiction. I frankly am not buying it, and am looking for truly honest human feelings. I am trying to wrap my head around this sort of solider/ cop mentality that allows them to push aside empathy and rationality, and replace it with cold obedience... and whether that is what is actually happening. What goes through someone's head when they are in situations perceived as hostile? Is everyone not in your group/ squad perceived as a threat? Is there room for filtering non-combatants/ non-threatening people? Is such a filter seen by you or others as a liability or asset? Do you find this is a way of thinking that has always been a part of you, or trained? And does it bleed into off-duty, or is there just a sort of internal switch that defaults you into a combat mode when working? Without the full story, it is easy for people like me to see only good cops/ bad cops and mindless tin soldiers. But I know there is more to the story. I REFUSE to believe things are so black and white. I want to understand the gray here. Maybe it is my rose-tinted glasses, that I see the good in all people. I believe the vast majority people are inherently good, and their actions are driven by a desire to do what they think is good and right. People don't set out with a desire to do bad; bad things are a consequence of drives to do what they believe to be the right thing, which can be misguided. I don't believe that cops/ soldiers are even remotely comprised of mostly bad people, nor do I believe THEY think most people are bad. Bed people are out there, and cops and soldiers are humans, capable of being as bad or worse than those who they strive to protect against. But I refuse to believe those bad apples always spoil the bunch... and when they do bleed onto and imprint on others, causing otherwise rational, good people to go against their nature, I want to know what went through their heads at the time, and what goes through their heads after the fact. I think stories with a lot of personal and professional feelings, thoughts, and commentary on the event(s) is really what I am looking for to help paint the picture, and help me understand tough situations and decisions. There is a gravity to the duties of service people that is so much heavier than that of the vast majority of people. Certainly, much heavier than anything I have ever had to deal with. Do people become numb the more they see? The amount of PTSD is staggering, which seems to suggest they do. And I want to understand what is behind this 'breaking' of good people. In a way, I think that perhaps the best people are the ones who take it the hardest and 'break' the worst. And I wonder how lifers do it? My grandpa was a lifer, but I never really knew him. He only saw combat in two wars, and it was all air... which seems like it might be a different mentality. They are bogies to be eliminated. You can't see the whites of their eyes. You don't bust into their homes, rip apart their drawers while their children scream in terror and confusion. How do humans do this to each other without personal consequence... and is it a misnomer that there isn't one? Just chipping away inside, or going numb because thinking about it would destroy you. And at that point, it appears to be an abusive relationship to remain in such a situation. When it is good, it is really, really good. You help people, you save lives, you protect those you love and your community/ country. But when it is bad, it is really, really bad, mostly for soldiers and cops in areas that may as well be warzones. The job lifts you and destroys you... at least this is how I have seen it. I know many, many more soldiers with PTSD or who were discharged than those who have remained active. Some destroyed by action, some destroyed by their OWN PEOPLE, perhaps other humans already broken or a bad apple spoiling the bunch and destroying the best people in the process. In a roundabout way, I both empathize with combatants and don't understand them and why THEY do what they do. I can put myself in the shoes of both them and a soldier/ cop, to a point. I understand fear, and what that can make you do. I understand danger, and snap decisions. I think I struggle with when and where that line is crossed, and how one comes to that point. Where they translate those feelings into violent action that results in death, serious injury, and as an extension, violation of basic rights. With soldiers, it seems the idea of 'rights' applies only to their fellow countrymen, and with cops, bad ones in particular, seem to bend those at times. Is that a power thing, people who get drunk with the feeling that they are above it all? Is it tied in with the fear and danger aspect? When one's duty is to defend rights, how do they justify removing them, ESPECIALLY in cases where a person is not a confirmed threat/ combatant, but merely someone suspected or in the wrong place/ wrong time? Do you ever think of yourself in such situations, and how you would behave and respond? If your own rights were being violated, even if you were innocent, would you allow it for the greater good, and is this part of why you feel capable of denying rights to others? Where is your own, personal line, and do you even draw one? Have you crossed it and redrawn it afterwards or regretted it? And, of course, I am even seeking commentary on my perspective and questions as an outsider, a civilian, asking such questions. My obvious lack of understanding. Commentary on whether I am way off, and how so, or if I am right on some things, and how so. I want an open discussion, and I want to understand how people put on 'soldier' or 'cop' mode, allowing them to do things that are so violent, and perhaps against their personal nature or ways. How good people align bad actions with their inner selves. I guess I have wandered off a bit, and want to finish this up by just expressing my frustrations with media and the base questions they bring up. The tin soldiers and 'baddies' used in movies, TV etc. to be killed en-masse. I always wonder what the bad guy's soldiers were thinking when they signed up, and see the bad things things they are doing, sitting by and defending the bad guy's mission while he tortures people. In the same sense, the soldiers who bust in and shoot everything moving, without a care for human life, never questioning. People dying, left, right, no names, catching bullets with flesh, mindless assumptions of them being nothing more than an enemy meatbag redshirt. Not a parent, a sibling, a child, a beloved member of their community, an artist, a genius, selfless, loving, and anything else they may be. What is going through people's heads, and how do they rationalize their behavior even when faced with moments of cognitive dissonance? Regardless of their feelings and frustrations with religion/ politics/ etc, do they ever feel the harm is outweighing the good, or stop seeing their agenda as being one that is aligned with their internal selves and internal desire to do good and right? Do they see people, or just missions? And, most importantly, how do people get to that point that they stop seeing people and only see missions or agendas? Ultimately, the big question that encompasses all this wall 'o text musing; How do you handle orders/ missions you are morally against? Do you realign your morals to protect your inner ego, lie to yourself, refuse, all of the above, etc.? How do good people do bad things and deal with it, themselves, and continue to do these things?