"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, August 25, 2007

What is it that we write with our actions?

Mary Pipher, renowned psychologist and author of Reviving Ophelia, displays the courage that most of her colleagues are incapable of, which is quite a commentary on thirty years of empathy training: "I am writing to inform you that I am returning my Presidential Citation dated 2/02/06 and awarded to me by then President of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Gerald Koocher. I have struggled for many months with this decision, and I make it with pain and sorrow. I was honored to receive this award and proud to be a member of APA. Over the years I have spoken at national conventions many times and had enjoyed an excellent relationship with the APA and its staff. With this letter, I feel as if I am ostracizing a good friend.

I do not want an award from an organization that sanctions its members’ participation in the enhanced interrogations at CIA Black Sites and at Guantanamo. The presence of psychologists has both educated the interrogation teams in more skillful methods of breaking people down and legitimized the process of torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions.

The behavior of psychologists on these enhanced interrogation teams violates our own Code of Ethics (2002) in which we pledge to respect the dignity and worth of all people, with special responsibility towards the most vulnerable. I consider prisoners in secret CIA-run facilities with no right of habeas corpus or access to attorneys, family or media to be highly vulnerable. I also believe that when any of us are degraded, all of human life is degraded. This letter is as much about us as it is about prisoners." - Common Dreams, "In Protest of APA Torture Stance, Author Returns Award"

As one who has grown spiritually within the healing power of modern psychology, I have been truly shocked by the implicit endorsement of torture by the APA. When those charged with healing the minds of those who have suffered abuse such as that perpetrated on the powerless at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have turned their knowledge to break the will of the weak, then indeed we have degraded the best that is within us. Those who have cared for the victims of torture, such a Mary Pipher, will never believe the rationalizations of abuse that the APA has now signed its name to. Let us grieve for what we have become.

When any of us are degraded, all human life is degraded. Read the whole letter at In Protest of APA Torture Stance, Author Returns Award. Things that are done in secret shall be shouted from the rooftops in the kingdom of heaven. Let's start shouting.

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