I recently wrote a paper for a class on the show Black Mirror, which is a series of futuristic scenarios featuring the human race. All the episodes are different stories, and they are quite fascinating. In the Episode “Men Against Fire,” the military is hunting creatures called “roaches.” Each military member is engrained with a technological implant behind their ear, which allows the individual to record what they see and heightens senses. making it easier to aim and shoot at targets.

The main character is new to the mission of hunting roaches, and on his first mission he kills a lot of them. The roaches look like white zombies, and some civilians will hide them in their houses. Those housing the roaches are jailed for this, and the military continues to hunt. During his hunts, the main character’s device gets glitched with a light. After this happens he starts seeing things differently. While he’s hunting, his partner starts shooting at a human. The main character knocks his partner out and helps hide the mother and son, but his partner later finds and kills the mother and son. This devastates the main character, and he starts screaming, asking why anyone would kill people? His partner then looks at him and says, “They’re not people. They’re roaches.”

The episode ends with the main character being in an enclosed blank room with a military psychiatrist. The doctor explains how his device was messed up, but they fixed it, so he should continue doing his job without problems. He is shocked by this and says he knows what the military did. He knows that it disguised humans to look like roaches through implants, so he, and others like him, would kill people for the government. The doctor explains that these people have bad genetics and need to be wiped out.

This episode hit me, especially after being in the military myself. I looked back at experiences where we were taught that some people weren’t, in fact, people. But this is far from the truth. Even our worst enemies have families and people who love them. I’m not saying war is always bad. I’m not saying sometimes it isn’t necessary. What I’m saying is we are taught from a young age that some people’s lives are more valuable than others when, in reality, this isn’t true.

What I find horrible is that our society doesn’t value individual life. ‘We’ lack empathy. ‘We’ decide whose lives are significant. If ‘we’ don’t like something someone does, ‘we’ kill them. People watch people getting killed and don’t think much about it. They don’t think of the consequences of how much that person affected others. Our society has an incredibly high murder rate, and it isn’t getting any better. Even after events like our 28th mass shooting in ten years, the killing keeps happening.

The rhetoric we spread affects people. The violence on TV affects people. When we teach hate, we will get hate in return. Yes, there are different levels, but right now our society has spread too much hate. There are comments on the internet that consist of questions like, “Why couldn’t there be a mass shooting at a Nicki Minaj concert instead? #killtheblacks.” We not only are fighting off the evil of someone massacring innocent humans at a concert, but now we have to fight off the hate of a person wishing another group of people had been massacred instead.

Lives are grievable, whether they’re someone you hate or not. That person you may not care about has someone else who cares about them, just like you. When you look at the different groups of people we are at war with, most believe they are doing the right thing by killing innocent strangers because that’s who they were taught by hate. But if we approach things the same way, if we let hate consume us, we will never be able to unite as a country and embrace genuine tolerance and peace.

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