Recently in the English speaking world we have begun to talk about torture as though it is some distasteful cultural oddity that can be discussed, legislated, and most importantly swept under the carpet by decent people. I hear American people talking about whether torture is “worth it;” whether the information gained from such means is reliable. The fact that we are even having such conversations is a eerie testament to how small the steps humanity has taken toward civilization in the last few millenia really are.
I recently heard Ret. Colonel Ann Wright speak on the book tour for DISSENT Voice of Conscience and she reminded the few of us who had come out to hear her speak about the stories of the valiant few in government or military service who have in some cases have lost their very identity for doing what is right rather than what is at most technically legal. In the course of ther discussion she reminded us that the the vast majority of the pictures from Abu Ghirab prison have been locked away to never be seen as the world would not stand still for what we did to those prisoners. The head of the U.S.’s judicial system talks about simulated drowning when it IS in fact drowning with resuscitation happening before the person dies.
Torture eats away at the soul of the tortured and the torturer, and if a culture can be said to have a soul in a shared moral structure that soul is also diminished when torture is sanctioned.
I firmly believe that women must be the ones to save our civilization from the barbarism of war and the torture and atrocities generated by the mentality of war and aggression. Women and children have increasingly been the victims and casualties of war over the last century.
If you have read this far, do the world a favor and read the linked article The War Against Women by Ann Jones. Don’t shirk from the knowledge or the discomfort created by reading it. Each and every one of us is responsible for what we allow people to do in the name of our country and indeed to occur anywhere on our planet. I’m especially frustrated by the women I encounter in my daily life who say they are too busy, aren’t interested, or don’t know enough to follow politics. We who ignore hate and violence are as guilty of the crimes we allow to happen in our names as the people who carried out the the violent crime of war on our streets and around the world. I feel especially strongly that we in the U.S. and the rest of the world that has benefited so excessively from Industrial Revolution have to accept the responsibility that comes with living in countries that once were bastions of freedom and a light toward what we might become. If we don’t want genocide, torture/rape to be what our daughters and grand daughters know as life then we better all wake up now. Our world is facing dramatic instability in the near future as climate change forces every aspect of our lives to shift in unpredictable ways. What we will do in the face of unknown adversity is likely to relate to what we do and allow our fellow citizens to do in the here and now. When demonstrating in front of a military recruiting center and in spite of my own better judgment when I allowed myself to be drawn into interaction with the paramilitary terrorists who call themselves patriots who harass individuals expressing freedoms guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution to voice dissent about military recruitment of our country’s youth to fight in illegal wars I’ve been told that hanging is the just reward for “traitors” like myself. I have no doubt that the man who smirked as he spat these words out in my face would be completely capable of horrific acts similar to what has happened in Serbia, Croatia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Lione, Darfur…. and countless other places in our world.
How can we as the mothers of the world do anything less than act to stop these horrors?