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How a Country Loses Its Soul

May 13, 2009

You can call it mysticism if you want to, but I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love freedom and a special kind of courage.

You may not remember these words, but they come from a speech many call one of the masterpieces of political discourse. This speech being Pres. Ronald Reagan’s “The Shining City Upon a Hill.” It has never been my want to reflect on Reagan, as I believe he is an aggrandized representative of the American President. Especially when his record is observed through the African-American hermeneutic. But this refrain speaks to more than politics – it speaks to the soul of a people, not just the ideals of a nation.

These words at this point in our nations history need to be remembered for we are at the precipice, and in danger of losing our soul. We have professed the courage of a democratic way, and espoused our love for its ideals, but now we are debating the merit of “alternative forms of interrogation”, which of course is code for TORTURE. In his glowing statement of national ideal, Pres. Reagan speaks of a love of freedom and the courage to seek it. One must ask the question, would that courage he spoke of be reflected in the alternative forms of Torture his Republican party seem so quick to excuse. I think not, for in that speech Reagan refers to the courage of John Hart, who for the sake of freedom, lost his entire family to sickness, and his own life to a broken heart. I do not think so noble a sentiment can be attributed to the near-sighted belief of some hawks that every mean is justified favorable ends.

Why did we sign the Geneva conventions? Why did wiser men than George Walker Bush and Dick Cheney deem it necessary to sign in brotherhood with many nations the conventions that would deem torture illegal? I believe it was because they knew instinctively that injustice should not only be combatted, but shunned and condemned.

I was at a loss this morning, as I listened to men and women, journalists and politicians alike debate the nuances of torture and come to the conclusion in a revisionist fashion that our safety had been enhanced by our reversal of Geneva’s conditions. The fact that they deny is there is no safety when there is tyranny anywhere. Martin Luther King is widely quoted saying,

Injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere.

He is still right. But further, the absence of justice creates the absence of safety. Asks the young girls in Darfur, who are being raped and their brothers killed while it’s countries ruler denies and defies the world’s authorities. Where there is no justice – there is no safety. Ask the slum dog in the tenements of India if the injustice of the class system they live under has afforded them safety.

I think not.

The same holds for us, we cannot hold up the argument that we are more safe, while we carry on a pattern of injustice.

Call Torture what it is – CRIME

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