An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Shut It Down

"People in every generation have striven for power, the only difference begin that ours has achieved it. This is 'the century of total war' because this is 'the age of omnipotence.' What has happened is curious. You know the expression 'A man's reach should exceed his grasp.' That means our moral imagination should stretch beyond what we are able to do. Now the situation is reversed: what we are able to do is beyond the reach of our moal imagination. Our capacity to destroy is virtually unlimited. But our capacity to imagine, to feel, to respond, is, as always, limited. Thus we are able to do physically what we cannot grasp morally. We are living beyond our moral means. That is the heart of our problem." - William Sloan Coffin.

Any Christian who cares to know knows that people are being tortured at Guantanamo as we speak. '[A high court judge in England] said: "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations.' He made his comments, he said, after learning of the UN report that said Guantánamo should be shut down without delay because torture was still being carried out there.

The report, by five inspectors for the UN human rights commissioner, refers to shackling, hooding and forcing detainees to wear earphones and goggles. In particular, it refers to interrogation techniques and excessive violence used to forcefeed prisoners on hunger strike. Based on interviews with detainees' lawyers, former inmates and written exchanges with US officials, it calls on the US to put the 490 inmates on trial or release them."

Torture is but the failure of imagination unleashed by our sense of omnipotence. In the words of Alfred McCoy, "As past perpetrators could have told today's pundits, torture plumbs the recesses of human consciousness, unleashing an unfathomable capacity for cruelty as well as seductive illusions of potency."

"The CIA's psychological torture paradigm used two new methods, sensory disorientation and 'self-inflicted pain,' both of which were aimed at causing victims to feel responsible for their own suffering and so to capitulate more readily to their torturers...Although seemingly less brutal than physical methods, the CIA's 'no touch' torture actually leaves deep, searing psychological scars on both victims and -- something seldom noted -- their interrogators. Victims often need long treatment to recover from a trauma many experts consider more crippling than physical pain. Perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to escalating acts of cruelty and lasting emotional disorders. When applied in actual operations, the CIA's psychological procedures have frequently led to unimaginable cruelties, physical and sexual, by individual perpetrators whose improvisations are often horrific and only occasionally effective." - Alfred McCoy, http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=1795.

Will you join me in praying for these victims of our silence and passivity, and, should I add, the common "Christian" focus on our own psychological contests rather than on the suffering of those who pay the price for our comfort and security?

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