Disclaimer: I know that this is going to be a controversial post, that there will people with more information than me, and people who do not agree with me. However, at 23-years-old I feel confident that my opinion on this subject is not going to change. I believe in debate and the power it has to spark conversation and growth, but I ask that you keep your opinions civil and that this not degrade into the likes of a Rush Limbaugh talk show segment.
I can remember in third grade, my teacher telling me that one day I would understand war.
This was about a year before September 11, so looking back I can’t remember what war she was talking to a third grade class about, or why she thought to tell an 8-year-old that war makes sense and that one day, she would agree. I just remember feeling confused and obstinate. Utterly sure that at no point in my life would I understand killing people to make a point. For the first time in my admittedly short life, I doubted an authority figure and what they were telling me.
I don’t know why I thought of this on my way to work Wednesday morning, other than the recent situation with the CIA and the sudden realization, all across America, that we never really had the moral high ground after all.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the CIA released a report earlier this week detailing the tactics they’ve used over the last 13 years in the fight against terrorism. The release of the report was a conflict in itself – the left saying that we need to admit to our mistakes and grow from them, and the right saying that all this report could do is make matters worse. If that was bad, the report itself was even worse, filled with details about the just-barely-within-Geneva-Convention-laws torture that our CIA has been using to find information that debatably, they never did find anyway. Waterboarding, anal feeding (I don’t know either, so don’t ask me what that is), sleep deprivation, chaining a person with broken legs into a standing position against a wall…
I’ve read very little about the report and the debate that it’s sparked. All I really know is what my mom and I discussed briefly, the few articles I’ve read since, and what my daily email from The Skimm told me. But for me, that’s enough: names of torture tactics that I can’t even guess what they might be. Tactics designed to break a person, to get information that we never were able to get.
To fight for a moral high ground that, as it turned out, we never really had in the first place. And while I realize there is a fight for the greater good at stake, that there’s a lot I still don’t know and may never know, I think I know enough to say that I don’t understand.
I don’t understand how, in 2014 we’re still at a point in society where our go-to response to a disagreement – however big or small – with another country is to grab our weapons and kill until we see who has the least men and women left standing. I don’t understand how we’ve yet to overcome this most base instinct of ours as human beings, that which is supposed to separate us from animals. As someone who subsists off of words and knows the power behind them, I don’t understand how language isn’t enough to stop us from this.
I always have, and always will stand behind the men and women who risk their lives to fight for our country and my freedom. I am grateful beyond words for what they have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice. But I don’t understand what they are sacrificing for, why this is the only way we know to solve a problem.