The idea of a "poisoned soul" is pretty universal. In stories it can be used as a plot device for a saga of redemption, or it can be used to tell the tale of the fall of Lucifer. The very concept of a poisoned soul, has been on my mind.
But the details of what corrupts has been debated by philosophers through history. "As you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you." Nietzsche's take on the subject is probably the most popular. In literature we have Smeagol turning into Gullem. Perhaps Tolkein took Gullem from "Ghollem", a soulless monster. But whatever source you choose, there exists this idea that souls start in a state of innocence or purity and become poisoned or lost through a persons actions.
At the heart of this is "violent and predatory" verses "violent and protective". But there are those who believe that it isn't the predatory or protective part that poisons the soul, that it is the violent part.
The impact of your fist on someone also hurts your fist, according to a proverb I read somewhere.
The idea that "spiritual wounds" are caused by violence has taken ground in our culture. Some have gone so far as "spiritual wounds causes a poisoned soul". Examples of the "deranged veteran" stories such as "Taxi Driver", "Rambo", or "Apocalypse Now" show how some are willing to create a false link between violence and a damaged soul.
How did we as a culture go from "The Big Red One" to "Taxi Driver"? From the Greatest Generation celebrating the victory of freedom over oppression in WWII to a public with no coherent concept of sacrifice for the cause of freedom?
Because looking back through the mirror of history, it is easy to see who poisoned their souls. Not with violence, but with drugs, free love, and undisciplined thoughts. The men and women who went to Vietnam did come back changed, and some did come back with PTSD, but neither is a symptom of a corrupt soul. However back home others were corrupting themselves as fast as they could. Sex is not love, drugs do not expand your consciousness, and having a mind open to all ideas makes it a breeding ground for nonsense.
So thinking about what poisons a soul, I've come up with the following.
It is not violence that corrupts. It is hate.
It is not righteous anger that corrupts. It is selfish anger and frustration.
It is not desiring a better job or position that corrupts. It is refusal to humble yourself to the job you have.
Arrogance corrupts. Power corrupts.
Someone who believes that they should be given power over other people has a poisoned soul. Poisoned with the seductive but fatally flawed belief that one person can make correct decisions for others. Poisoned with the arrogance to believe that by simple virtue of who they are that they should be obeyed.
I am very thankful that I work in a job where there is never absolute power. That no matter how much rank someone wears our actions are accountable to the citizens of the U.S. Even beyond any individual faith and accountability to God, we are always under the microscope.
This breeds a lot of self reflection. This is not always productive, but it is generally helpful in avoiding actions that would poison your soul. The attitude of a servant has been most helpful for me. By focusing on the welfare of my men I focus instead on their loved ones. If you love your men you train hard as a unit so that everyone can come home. If you love your men you will work hard to ensure they never lack for intelligence or supplies. Working to bring those men home is a tough job, and I am grateful for the opportunity.