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Habitual ways of speaking
'Old Pilot', that I was close to during the Korean War, if ever he saw or heard of anybody acting improperly, would first cry out, 'I'll kill him!' in a loud voice, then say to his startled companions, this time in very sweet tones, 'I will now sing a song,' which would make us laugh and smoothe down our bad feelings.
However, at some time or other his way of speaking transferred
itself unconsciously to me so that nowadays I find myself saying
'I'll kill him!' in the street
'I'll kill him!' in the bus
'I'll kill him!' at meetings
and worse still
'I'll kill him!' in church
and as I read the evening paper
'I'll kill him!' 'I'll kill them!'
not so that anyone can hear
but again and again without regard for time or place.
They say words are the seeds of action, and as the symptoms are
getting worse day by day, if now in the heart there is a silent gun, the
number of those I long to suppress keeps increasing one by one, so that
if ever that desire materializes, I have fury enough to commit mass murder,
and I am myself astonished at that bottomless endless murderous intent.
And just now suddenly there flashed into my mind the realization that of course if 'Old Pilot' always used to add the preposterous refrain 'I will now sing a song,' to his repeated 'I'll kill him!', it was designed to act as an antidote.
In future, whenever the thought 'I'll kill him!' arises, I'll
likewise recite at least a favorite poem, so that there will be no murder,
not even in the heart.
Note 'Old Pilot' was a nickname given to the late air-force captain Lee Kye-hwan.