"We said, 'How could you possible stand to see this, with all these bodies coming through town? Didn't you know what was happening?' They shrugged, and said 'Das ist Krieg.'"
War is competition - it has winners and losers. When you've won, theoretically, the war is over. Good and bad isn't really an ethics thing, so much as it's the story you get to write once you've won.
"The colonel made every citizen there, in that little town of maybe 200, walk up to the camp. He got them all organized and standing in line, and they had to walk through Buchenwald and see what had happened there." Some vomited - that smell, that sight - but most didn't. "They were brainwashed. It was a shocking thing to all of us guys who were walking them through: The German people didn't seem to give a damn."
We have laws that are meant to keep the worst of human behaviour and a predilection towards selfish ignorance in check. Ethics, in theory, are the things which help us manage ourselves in a social context.
Most of the people I know in politics have no direct connection, no personal experiences that relate to the absolute worst humanity is capable of when it puts winning and story-shaping ahead of in-the-now values and ethics. Winning elections is a race, after all - what matters most is getting across the line first.
Election funding rules get skirted. Laws get skirted, or ignored. Corners get cut, memberships get paid for, attacks are personalized on the theory that politics is a blood sport and if you wanna play, you gotta be prepared to give and take some hits.
All's fair in love and the war room, right?
It's this frame of thinking that worries and frustrates me. I know enough about human behaviour to know that such ideologies become hardened over time. As the "stakes" are rhetorically raised, the enemy increasingly demonized, more and more questionable strategies and tactics become acceptable.
We see it happening around us, every day.
Until the people who crave power start recognizing it comes with a hefty responsibility, things are only going to get worse.