Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They've Summoned Up a Thundercloud

I've been spending time this week reading a new author, Nalini Singh, and really enjoying her books. The series is paranormal and of the first two, I find them well balanced between plot and emotion. The characters are well drawn and grow - and as ought to happen with romances, grow together throughout the story. The worldbuilding so far is well done - fluid rules are not expressed as absolutes or made for no reason and is internally consistent.

I also managed to do a tricky data extraction, baked my favorite cookies tonight, heard from a Cued Speech contact, and had lunch with a friend. I've realized that "thunder" and "lush" are words that really resonate with me. Some words just have power and for me, those do. The rainbow cake experiment branched out: one friend tried the soda mix method of cake making and another eschewed the soda for eggs and oil, but spread cheer to those in her community with a rainbow cake. She even put a rainbow of Skittles on the frosting - how cool is that!?! That's the good stuff.

The bad stuff is mostly external to me, while horrifying me to my core because it reflects on what I stand for when I say I'm American. Check out the posts on torture that Andrew Sullivan has been posting at the Daily Dish this week. He mostly expresses what I feel, although I'm willing to give Obama more time to deal with it than he is. One of the things most wrong with the last administration was their insistence that something be done IMMEDIATELY! Now! Now! Now! without review, without reflection, without asking or paying attention to experts or dissent. I know that it took me a year to settle into my new job and start to feel firmly rooted there - and it's a job I'd been doing professionally for a decade, just in another group. President Obama's had just under a hundred days on the job and has had other things on his plate like the total meltdown of our economy and establishing relationships with the other world leaders. If this doesn't have his full attention right now, I'm ok with that as long as things eventually shake out and he knows it's not partisanship to punish war criminals for war crimes. It has felt in my mind like three years since my last post but I now realize it's been just a few days. I'm from the Gen X, MTV, short attention span generation, but there are times to step back from that speed and let things settle out so the important stuff stops getting lost in the urgency of now. Giving the torture response more than 100 days is fair.

For those who might think there's some debate about whether sleep deprivation is torture, I can tell you that it is. It robbed me of my 20s and a hunk of last year. The danger is in the cumulative effects, and it steals your potential. Lots of little horrors are as bad as a big one and someone who is sleep deprived has less ability to re-center themselves after big or small horrors. Not even sleep professionals really understand it.

For those who think that there's some debate about whether or not waterboarding is torture, there is no debate. It was a favorite torture tool of the Spanish Inquisition, Pol Pot, and various other regimes we recoil from and believe our selves to be better than. That it is torture hasn't been a debate since the 1500s or before, until Cheney - with Karl Rove, the closest living persons to pure evil that I know of - asserted that it was, the media swallowed those soundbytes hook, line, and sinker, and some in Congress were still reeling from the blacklisting / disappearing of the early dissenters to the Bush administration and realizing how little power they had (until they just got used to doing whatever the Executive branch told them to) and let it happen. Torture is always, always wrong. There are very few things one can say that about. The best thing I know about McCain is that he tried to stand publicly against torture when it could damage his influence, although the degree to which he softened his stance during his campaign almost negates it. I can't find any grey area and grey area is my particular Calling it enhanced interrogation does not absolve it from being torture. Try to find a news outlet calling it torture though, and you'll see how far the hooks went down.

The last administration is the most unAmerican thing to happen in my lifetime and we'll be recovering ourselves for a long time to come. I'm still shocked and furious, but cannot live all the time full of shock and fury and be a benefit to my community. If we can heal up from it and come out stronger, I may come to have some forgiveness. That forgiveness will come easier if people who ordered torture are held to account by us as working against our laws. It will likely leave a scar that will be raw and itchy and gruesome in the psyche of not just us, but everyone who ever thought that America was somehow better than that. But healed scars are a sign of strength and lessons learned. We can say "never again" and "we'll be more careful" but unless people are held accountable for their actions it won't have meaning. If we work toward our ideals and work to uphold the laws that protect us and refine or get rid of the ones that hurt us, we can become better than we are today. But I don't expect, or really even want, speed. We need to take care and ask the experts and reflect and sleep on our decisions before going crazy. I have hope that this will happen.

And that's why I haven't posted all week. I wanted to think on and sleep on what I wanted to say about America's role in torturing people. Because it's a little heavy in a blog on happiness. It may not be a stance that will win me friends or influence people. But what I need to do differently is be less silent, when my soul needs to scream. Now to figure out what to write to people who can take action.

From Leonard Cohen
    I can't run no more
    with that lawless crowd.
    While the killers in high places
    say their prayers out loud.
    But they've summoned,
    they've summoned up a thundercloud.
    They're going to hear from me.

    Ring the bells that still will ring
    Forget your perfect offering.
    There is a crack, a crack in everything.
    That's how the light gets in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your post has me thinking of the Voltaire quote...Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Lorraine... and it stumps the heck out of me how the administration that was the antithesis of the American ideal was able to cloak itself in patriotism and promoting freedom???I find that I can't think about it for too long because it makes my stomach hurt.