It is very difficult to judge law enforcement officers and soldiers on the basis of their individual actions because they pride themselves on not acting as individuals, but rather as being the physical manifestations of the State. Nevertheless we must make the effort.
An order is just spoken words or ink on paper. It is the order followers who bring those orders into the real world where they have real consequences. At every point of the chain of obedience there is always a choice to continue obeying. Therefore every order follower must always assume personal responsibility for each and every action committed by their hands. There is no shirking responsibility. To attempt to do so is to pretend one is a soulless machine rather than a thinking sentient human being.
The beginning of wisdom is to be fully accountable for one’s actions no matter how egregious. Self-ownership involves claiming ownership of one’s physical body, the fruits of one’s labor, as well as the direct consequences of one’s actions. When every human being assumes this there will be no cowardly blaming of one’s superiors, the law, politicians, or one’s job. There will be no shameful diffusion of responsibility. The phrases “I’m just doing my job” or “I didn’t write the laws I just enforce them” denote a special degree of mind body separation that would make any spiritual adept green with envy. They are only used when justifying truly horrifying actions.
Teach your children what is right and wrong. Teach your children what is morality and to think for themselves. If you succeed in doing this you will not have to fear that they will rationalize future atrocities with such contemptible phrases. A child who internalizes a moral compass will not, as an adult, be swayed by the tempting allure of poisonous sophistry nor the forked tongue of political predators. The child is the father of the man. Raise your children in the manner you wish to see the world of tomorrow. Your words become their reality. Choose your words with great care.