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Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason


employees, he first blessed, prayed over, then salvaged Gavin's wretched soul. Wizichinski's was
the next to be spared ill-determined ravages, before the chorus line sidestepped to me.
Having time to think about it, I acted as if the preacher was having trouble saying goodbye,
and interrupted his fervent prayer that I avoid the fires of hell: "Too late," I said, standing to
shake his suddenly limp hand. "It's in Central America, and I've been as close to heaven as I'm
going to get." I leaned forward and whispered, "Rio de Janeiro," as if his acolytes might rush to
the ticket counter ahead of him.
On this cue, our crew stood to shake everyone's hand.
"You think this had an effect on me?" I asked Bonnie when I finished retelling this much.
"I’m not saying it affected you—I’m saying you witnessed the shaping of different cultures
through fear and blind obedience, but at the time you fa iled to view it in this light, because your
own conformation had risen you above them. The same applies, to varying degrees, to all of the
countries you visited."
"Right—sorry. That’s about it."
"Do you recall telling me about Iranian Generals sending children into Iraqi minefields to
spare Iranian fighting forces? As martyrs going to their great reward," she said as I nodded
affirmatively, "that society viewed children as acceptable losses."
"Maybe officially, but I doubt that their parents felt that way."
"You'd be surprised. At any rate," she waved my words aside, "Western societies thought
this was barbaric, yet they always bomb their enemy's infrastructures to preserve their own
fighting forces. They know they are killing children, but they presume the moral high ground of
good intentions and lesser numbers, by trying to limit these casualties. But what's the reality of
warfare?"
"In what terms?"
"Any terms that come to mind—say whatever comes to your mind at anytime, for that
matter."
"More civilians are killed than soldiers, but they're not targeting children," I said inanely.
"Which matters how?" she said.
I waved her on.
"America awards endless medals to preserve the idea that patriotism expressed through
warfare epitomizes duty, courage, and honor, when it demonstrates the absence, failure, and
misplaced application of them all. These..."
"Hold on. Are you categorically saying that we don't owe allegiance to our nations, and that
there is no courage or honor demonstrated in warfare? I know you’ve said this before," I added,
"but I didn’t quite follow—not all of it."
"I'm still saying our motives are misguided until and unless we understand the true nature of
our actions. As things stand, the conditioned reasoning of the average person has them believing
that duty, courage, and honor, can be derived from the unnecessary savagery in which they have
chosen to participate, and without whom it could not happen. That’s like your partner in crime
getting shot while robbing a bank, and you save his life by turning him in for a reward."
"Let me catch up with that one," I chuckled.
"I’m saying it's not heroic, or a sacrifice, even if you turned yourself in without immunity.
It's the best choice you can make after having made a spectacularly stupid one."
"It's still selfless."
"Unnecessarily so, because it's predicated on the original crappy choice." She pitched
forward. "We've covered this: an apparently good end can never justify a poor means, because it
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