A Republican Sees the Light

Guest editorial in the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard from a life-long Republican that begins, “As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican.” Read it here. Very powerful writing. From near the end:

We’re poisoning our planet through gluttony and ignorance.

We’re teetering on the brink of self-inflicted insolvency.

We’re selfishly and needlessly sacrificing the best of a generation.

And we’re lying about it.

Yet Another Call for Closing Gitmo

Jimmy Carter has called on the Bush Admin to close the detention center at Guantanamo, joining a growing chorus of voices from all sides of the political spectrum. Some want to close it because of the torture and human rights abuses, some because of the whole “enemy combatant” shadowland, and some because the very name “Gitmo” is being used to recruit still more terrorists and insurgents.

Jimmy’s right — close it, close it, close it. Why do we need interrogation rooms with iron rings embedded in the floor? Why do we feel it’s okay to imprison hundreds of people forever, without charges or hope of release? Why do we refuse due process to our POWs?

Ten years from now Gitmo will be remembered as a national embarrassment, like the internment camps of WWII and My Lai from Vietnam. We will ask ourselves, What were we thinking? And the answer will be, for many of us: We weren’t thinking, or feeling.

At least Jimmy Carter continues to be a moral leader for us. Now if only the “moral” folks in Washington will follow his lead.

Amazing — An Actual Vote of Sanity

As you can read here on the WP, the Supreme Court has voted 5-4 that capital punishment of juveniles is unconstitutional.

In the midst of a country that apparently feels torture is okay and that killing people to stop killing makes sense, it is like a momentary and unexpected breeze in the midst of a stifling summer day.

The amazing thing is that four of the justices — Rehnquist, Scalia, O’Connor, and Thomas — voted in dissent. Apparently, according to Scalia, the fact that every other civilized country in the world condemns such executions as inhumane is enough reason for the US to keep doing it. God forbid we should agree with the French on anything moral!

The other five saw through that smokescreen, and made the correct call. A small win for morality and sanity, but a win, nonetheless. Be thankful for small breezes.

Courage to Write, Courage to Speak

I’ve been re-reading an important book in my life, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. The basic premise, of course, is that fear in all its infinite variety is part and parcel of writing, and that the act of writing is itself an act of courage. The corollary to this is that most writers do not suffer from writer’s block (sitting to write and having no words come), but from writing avoidance: wanting to write, but avoiding it because, ultimately, of fear.

As I’ve been working through this again, I’ve come to realize that it is true not only of writing. The same fears — of rejection, of failure, of loneliness, of misunderstanding — apply to speaking, and especially to speaking out on things we care about. We’d rather tell jokes to friends than speak truth to power and risk losing the friends.

One of the joys of both middle age and recovery is finding your voice. You come to realize that the risk of losing friends is less deadly than the risk of being silent. And, if you’re fortunate, you’ve developed some friendships that are based on mutual respect for each other’s differences rather than on shared sameness.

Doing this blog, doing my web site, and trying to write something every day, are all exercises in fear control. In Keyes’s eyes, all acts of courage. Speaking out, writing letters, contacting officials — also acts of courage. Not big courage, not hero courage, not anything needing a medal, but small acts of courage, nonetheless.

If all of us with normal lives, normal checkbooks, and normal health — in other words, all of us with power — would face our internal fears and write and speak our truth, we could relieve the larger fears, the big fears, of the powerless. Here’s to a tsunami of small acts of courage.


BTW — The book is available through Amazon here

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State Dept Condemns Same Torture Techniques That Defense Dept Uses

The Washington Post reports here that a State Department study of torture methods in other countries condemns the very same techniques the Defense Department and CIA have been using for the past three years.

Does anyone else feel like we are living in Looking Glass land?

–> Looking Glass Moment #1 — We condemn certain techniques as torture when used by Syria or Egypt, even though we have used the same techniques in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

–> Looking Glass Moment #2 — We condemn Syria and Egypt for torture, but we send certain prisoners to those countries knowing they will be tortured.

–> Looking Glass Moment #3 — The administration officials who signed off on these practices are not only still in office, they are the ones standing up and condemning the torture in other countries.

There is nothing that makes me more ashamed of my country than to know that we carry out torture ourselves and condone it when carried by others on our behalf. It is beyond my comprehension that we do this, and beyond my comprehension that the public at large is not outraged.

This voter, for one, is outraged. Everything this country stands for is made mute by government-sanctioned torture. This must stop.

Ethics versus Morals

As we prepare for the inauguration and reflect on recent and current events, we may find benefit in the comparison of ethics versus morals.

Morals, according to the dictionary, is “concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action.” And when it comes to judgment, the current crop of Bushites certainly excel, especially in the sexual arena. Their judgment is clear: abortion is immoral, homosexuality is immoral, gay marriage is immoral. Stating these judgments loud and often was their path to power. And, it worked.

Ethics, on the other hand, is “a set of principles of right conduct.” Again, the actions of this administration and its supporters are clear. Torture — not immoral, must be okay. Rape of the environment — not immoral, must be okay. Corporate and personal greed — not immoral, must be okay. Revealing the identity of an undercover CIA agent to get back at her husband — not immoral, must be okay. Telling lies about opponents in order to get elected — not immoral, must be okay. Lying to go to war — not immoral, must be okay.

Obviously, the Bush team, and many of their supporters, see no connection between morals and ethics. You could say they have morals without ethics. They can judge others, they can hold others up to the moral mirror, but when they themselves look in the same mirror, all they see is their own unseeing eyes.