16 April 2009

torturing ourselves

The release today of four Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel torture memos by the Obama administration has, predictably, stirred up a hornet’s nest. President Obama has been criticized by both the right and left wings. On the right, there are a number of concerns, possibly the key one being a fear that this decision could jeopardize national security. On the left, there’s a feeling that, among other things, this is a half-hearted effort of correcting the lawlessness of the Bush administration.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden, while disagreeing with the move, said, “I realize that this is a very difficult decision for the president. I’ve been told by agency folks that the president personally—personally—agonized over the decision.”

I’ve included an image of yet another cartoon I uncovered while packing for our recent move. (The crinkled appearance is due to some unfortunate lamination!) It’s a Calvin and Hobbes from 1995 which is as timely as ever. (“Doesn’t it seem like everybody just shouts at each other nowadays?”) I especially appreciate Calvin’s observation that, “We want the sense of solidarity and identity that comes from having our interests narrowed and exploited by like-minded zealots.”

On this issue, as well as on so many others, we have way too much heat and far too little light. I think we all would be better served by getting over ourselves. To me, Jesus’ prediction rings true: “because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12).

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