June 13, 2006

Torture is about us--not them

From an email sent to Andrew Sullivan:
"I keep telling people that it's not about them, that it's about us. That it doesn't matter if the guy at Guantanamo is a monster - that if we torture him, we become monsters too. People who argue for torture always talk as if we aren't really there - as if the criminal is there, the monster, and torture is there, a fate that isn't underserved, and which might bring forth some useful information.

The problem, of course, is that we are there, and the practice of torture changes us. Approving of it changes us, carrying it out changes us, to become the sort of people who approve of torture means, in a sense, that the country we love so much has passed from the scene."


1 comment:

Kathy O'Leary said...

Torture is a moral issue. This is the heading for a quarter-page ad in June 13th’s New York Times op-ed section. It is an announcement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture which is a non-profit group headquartered in Princeton, NJ that formed early this year. Cardinal McCarrick, Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Dr. Sayyid M. Sayeed, Dr Rick Warren and 22 other prominent religious leaders from a diverse background have endorsed the campaign’s statement against the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading tactics by our government.

In May, a month that is devoted to Mary, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a crowd at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love just outside Rome. He gave a recitation of the rosary and then spoke of the love God and of Mary as a sign of that love. Pope Benedict concluded by speaking of the power of love and the current imperative for choosing love over violence in dealing with our enemies “there is a need to convert to God, to God who is Love, so that the world may be freed from war and terrorism”.

Also in May, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Colin Powell speak. He was not most proud of his accomplishments in war, but of his accomplishments in bringing and maintaining peace. He spoke what he believes is the only way to end terrorism. It is, according to a 4-star general, through small acts of kindness that we will end the fear and the hate that feeds terrorism.

If the Pope and a 4-star general can both choose diplomacy over bombs and love over violence then why can't we?

In a letter to the Senate in support of the McCain-Warner Ammendment to the Defense Authorization Act Bishop John H. Ricard, speaking on behalf of the USCCB wrote "In a time of terrorism and great fear, out individual and collective obligation to respect basic human dignity and human rights, even of our worst enemies, gains added importance." At a time when the Pentagon is re-writing the Army field manual to remove language that relates to the Geneva Convention and prohibitions against the use of inhumane treatment of prisoners, and detainees at Guantanamo are committing suicide because they have lost all hope this statement is very poignant.

To view NRCAT's statement against torture go to www.nrcat.org. Please endorse this statement and tell your legislators that your faith tells you that you must choose love because torture is a moral issue.

Kathy O'Leary
Chapter Coordinator
Pax Christi Summit
(a local chapter of Pax Christi USA www.paxchristiusa.org )

"As a community the Church must practice love." -Pope Benedict XVI