What if torture works?

Without hope of relief
Beaten and afraid
Ready to say anything
Fearing the next blow

Are the confessions true?
Did he know in the first place
Another blow falls, blood flows
Fear of death may loosen the tongue

Is this not a human being?
Can we see God under our boot?
What does it mean that humanity is the image of God?
Is this not desecration and blasphemy?

So the contract is signed in blood
If torture works for us, we sold our soul to Satan


Through facebook, et c. I see that many Friends are concerned that there is a pro-torture propaganda machine pointing out that our choice to torture for information was a good choice because it works and has lead to the killing of Osama. I knew of this attitude because I got a campaign mailing from a politician which said that torture gave the nation the tools they needed to prevent terrorism.

When we argue such matters pragmatically, we fail our faith and our ethics. Even if torture works it remains torture. For me as a Christian who is to love even my enemy, and to see the image of God in everyone, this is a blasphemy against God. I could no more endorse torture than I could endorse urinating on a cross. Actually, I prefer desecrating the cross — we Christians chose to use this as the symbol of Jesus, but God chose to name Humanity as God’s image. I cannot bear to see God’s image desecrated — I weep that we symbolically stomp on God’s face as the boot falls on the face of a fellow human being.

As a Quaker, I believe that my faith is to be more than an academic exercise, but part of my every day life. I cannot live out my faith by accepting torture as good because someone says it works. It is evil simply because it is evil. As a Quaker, it feels like duty to cry out against this evil.

Even if I accept that torture lead to a short term success, I regret it leads to a long term failure. We fail to engage the world peacefully when it becomes clear that we do not respect the very treaties we demand other nations follow. This hypocritical stance will harm us as we deal with the world around us. We cannot afford to be the world’s evil empire. Not only this, but if we are willing to break our principles of human rights when it suits us, not only does the world have reasons to fear our evil but fellow Americans should fear this amoral pragmatism. Do we think that the “Bill of Rights” will be observed if they are inconvenient? When will citizens disappear for political convenience?

Everything about this is wrong. I cry out against evil and oppression, because my faith is offended. I fear for our nation because our new ethic not only violates Christian faith, but any secular ethics which respects humanity. So what if evil accomplishes its goals? The means are evil — and the end of this evil is more evil.

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