What drives a man?
No, what really drives a man? I'm not talking about what drives a man to get up every morning and go to work to make enough money to support himself, his wife, and two kids, to pay the mortgage of his house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and dog running around the yard. I'm not talking about what drives a man to put up with the normal drudgery of everyday life. I'm talking what drive a man when he is a soldier.
So what drives a man? Is it his sense of duty? No. That's what gets him in the war. But after a while, that just sort of fades away and becomes just another thing you question. What is duty anyway? Who cares about responsibility to your country or race or whatever when the people around you are dying.
No, what drives a man is the fear of shame. A man is raised to believe that he needs to be a man. That fear is for the weak. That killing another man is the only way to cleanse your soul. That when you are face to face with your enemy and you see the white of his eyes and you pull the trigger and stop his heartbeat before he stops yours, that's when you truly experience life. When you end another man's life, that's when you are a man and you know what life really is.
But that's not true. It's all just an act we play. To kill another man when you appreciate your own life, liberties, and pursuits, it's like you've killed a part of yourself. But you don't show it. You can't show it. How can you? When everything that you were raised to believe is the thing you are striving to feel, you still search for that feeling of exhilaration, of liberation, of finally becoming a man.
But that's not what you feel. You feel an emptiness. You carry a fear of blushing. If a man blushes, well then he's just not a man. You kill because if you don't, you are deemed too weak to kill another man. You could fall. Falling is the only other option because even running is falling. So you could fall facing the other direction. You could let yourself be killed. But then again, that means you have failed. You can't let that happen. Why? Because that means embarrassment.
The object of the game is to avoid shame. Pain you can bear. The weight of the men you have killed, that you can carry around all day. Your back becomes bent and twisted, not being used to the emotional baggage. But you still stand up straight. A bend back is cause for embarrassment too.
That flush of blood to the face. The sudden redness that fills the cheeks. That can't be allowed. Pain is a part of daily life. Pain means you are strong. Pain you can ignore because pain means you can heal. Pain is viewed the same as a wound. Pain means it'll scab, peel, then be good as new. But is it really? Physical pain and emotional pain, are they equal? Are they the same? How can they be? The brain doesn't bleed.
I've seen it. I've cracked the skull of a man open and watched the grey matter leak out of its white container and spill over the floor. I was sad until I saw the dark grey body of his slave driver. Then my heart hardened and I moved on to kill the next man.
But when will it end. Can it end? When will my shame finally build up enough to finally tell me to stop? When will that final straw break my camel back? How much longer can I keep myself from feeling the shame of my sins?
Shame isn't the same as regret. Regret is missing the opportunity to do something different. When you've reached the point of shame, there are no other options but retreat. I killed and let pieces of myself be killed because I was too afraid of shame, too embarrassed not to let it happen. My back is already broken, yet I keep accepting straws.
How often do you hear someone say they were too afraid not to kill someone? That must be a first. But it's true. I was, am too afraid of the consequences if I do not kill another man.
The consequences for me aren't even death. Sure, that's a possibility. If I don't kill the man immediately in front of me, he will kill me. I'm not even afraid of where I will go afterwards. If for some miraculous reason I go upwards, all the weight I've been carrying will drag me down. And even if I'm send down, the shame I feel now would be way worse than any punishment that could be inflicted upon me.
But for now, I continue to feel the fear for shame. The embarrassment of blushing. The constant pursuit of being a man. The constant pursuit of redemption.
So, as I stare into the eyes of the man before me, I don't pray for his soul. He isn't in control of his movements. A grey slug is. I've come to believe these slugs, no matter what they believe, can never be men. Only men can be men.
Before I take the fatal bite into my enemy's neck, I look at the men around me. Over there, one of my men takes the life of a man with a the slice of his tail blade. Over here, another of my men takes the life of a man with twist of her wrist. And next to me, my best friend, a man until the end, takes the life of a man with his bare hands.
I turn back to my man. He looks into my uncaring eyes, his own full of fear. He knows he is going to die. I wonder if he feels shame at his end. A part of me reminds me once again that he is not here because of his own volition. It all boils down to that grey slug controlling his every movement, his every thought. But that doesn't matter now.
This man is in front of me. If I do not kill him, then he will kill me. How will I face myself then? How will I deal with the shame? The embarrassment? I cannot.
So I kill him.
My reputation remains pure.