Day 559: Why do People Kill Each Other?

Baghdad (CNN) -- Eleven-year-old Hajer Sami says she remembers her father. It's flashes of memory, really -- a smile, a laugh.
She was only 4 when he was killed, but she can't recall vivid memories of him and their family when it was whole.
Her family was torn apart when her father, a policeman, was gunned down seven years ago on the streets of Baghdad.
She struggles to comprehend why anyone would have wanted to kill her father or why some people detonate explosives in the middle of a crowd.
"Why do these people kill other people? Do they get paid money to do it?" she asks.

Some people do kill for money, to protect their income or even to earn extra money.

Some kill for pleasure. Taking a life, whether it is animal or human, gives them a positive experience.

Some kill for king and country. They believe that they are doing what's best for their people and country and will follow orders to their death.

Some kill for their God(s). They believe that it is what their God(s) wants.

Some kill because they believe that the person whose life they are taking does not deserve to be alive. They believe that they hold the right and authority to make that determination.

Some people kill in a haze of fury, unable to control their actions, possessed by their emotions.

Some people kill for revenge. They scheme and plot and then end the life of whoever wronged them.

Some kill while they're on a cocktail of drugs (legal or otherwise), unaware of their actions.

I am sure that there are more reasons, but the pattern that is emerging here is that all of the scenarios above stem from self-involved reasons, whether it is someone exerting their opinion or belief on someone else, or from a series of choices that lead up past the point of no return. Each of these scenarios holds within them the reality that they come about from one choice: A person chooses to not consider the life of another and to focus instead on their own experience, so becoming consumed by it.

Obviously there may be scenarios where someone makes a mistake, but they are quite rare. Some scenarios that are claimed to be accidents are really the result of a series of selfish choices, such as drinking and driving or even driving without the required awareness of your environment, sober or otherwise. The sad fact is that people are mostly incapable of directing their own behaviour and choices in a coherent manner - most people are simply caught up in their "programming", feeling like it would be impossible for them to change themselves, believing that "this is who they are". This is somewhat odd, we believe that we cannot change our beliefs. It's a vicious cycle, the belief preventing us from attempting to change ourselves and then the lack of change validating our belief.

We feel unable to change our opinions and beliefs, and often don't want to. Our opinions become a part of our self definition, a part of "who we are", so we fear that by changing them we will lose a part of ourselves and no longer be what we were before, even if what we were was not much - it was at least something and it was familiar, safe. Every single reason for deliberately (and most for accidentally) taking a life comes back to opinion. It comes back to a point where the killer values their opinion more than they value the life of another person, whether it be their opinion of the safety of their country, the sanctity of their religion, their ability to stop their addictions or dangerous habits. Taking the time and removing our opinions in order to make an objective choice is something that we need to develop for ourselves, it is something that requires practice and dedication. In the end, doing this will remove much pain from our lives as there is so much suffering that comes from rash and emotional choices.