What are we to do?

My partner is German, and he and his generation dealt with the question of what to say to their parents and grandparents who knew what was happening during the war, but didn’t do anything. How to understand that? What to do with that?

What are we to do with this?

In all, 98 detainees have died while in U.S. hands, with 34 identified as homicides, at least eight of which were tortured to death….

I fear that these numbers are too low, but even if they are exaggerated, one death by torture is too much. How will I respond to my little one, who sleeps on my chest as I write this, when he grows up and asks if I knew of the torture my country was committing? When he asks me what I did? Blogging and sermon-giving and voting and going to a protest and praying all feel woefully inadequate, yet it is about all I can think of. I am so disappointed with my country of citizenship and residence. I have never identified strongly with my country, yet I don’t think that somehow relieves me of guilt by association when terrible things are done by the U.S. government.

I knew of so many bad things in our past… yet somehow for me, systematic torture during my lifetime seems so clear… so obvious… so much like something that I feel we should be able to stop. If this is okay, what is not okay? If this doesn’t provoke outrage… and legal action agianst those responsible, what possibly could?

I find myself increasingly questioning what a democracy is. At what point is a country no longer a democracy? How many human rights and international laws must be violated before a country gives up the right to claim noble values and good intentions and such things as rule of law? I know this is not a well-thought out or well-articulated post. Mostly I just feel despair and sickness and a deep sadness about this. I wanted this nation to do better. To live up to its best self instead of confirming the worst.

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2 Responses to What are we to do?

  1. Misstery says:

    It is good that you feel the way you do. It is good that you can and have made your feelings public. Apathy is an enemy of democracy. Terrible things have happened but remember, your “Blogging and sermon-giving and voting and going to a protest and praying” have helped put a stop to those things. It is democracy that has changed things and it is democracy that we must put our higher hopes in, even if such optimism often requires more faith than reason.

    • Elizabeth says:

      A little late in my response, but thanks for your encouragement… More faith than reason… That is hard, ehh? I hope democracy can live up to its reputation…. As Churchill said, it is the worst form of government… except all the others. So I guess we don’t have many good options for Plan B…

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