11 November, 2007

From a Veteran

When Lex recently took on commenter "TJ" on the subject of torture, the conversation took an interesting turn... one very appropriate for Veterans Day. Lex wrote:

TJ, torture has been defined so broadly as to render the term meaningless. Something that “offends human dignity” has been declared torture by the UN - whatever that means.

When I think of “torture” I conjure images of pliers, the blowtorch, a rubber hose, electric leads. Everyone is now tying themselves into knots over head slapping, cold rooms and waterboarding - a technique that was for many years used on Navy pilots by other US servicemen in SERE school. We didn’t call it torture - we called it training. Worse things happen during rush week in our university frat houses. It’s absurd.

How many strangers’ lives would you be willing to sacrifice for your absolutist clarity? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? One million? Would you be content that one million innocent lives be [lost] in order for you to feel good about yourself?

Now ask yourself what would you be capable of to protect a member of your own family - a wife or daughter, someone being terrorized to their life’s end by a murdering psychopath. What would you be prepared to do?

You are my family TJ. My extended family to be sure, but family nonetheless. And I know what I would and would not be prepared to do to protect you. I couldn’t use the blowtorch or the pliers, but waterboarding falls well within the lines of things that I could live with.

After all, I have killed for you. Even though you didn’t ask me to. Even if you didn’t want me to.

Maybe you’re a better person than me, I’ll give you that. But render unto me at least the possibility that the things I’ve had to do at the cost of my own soul has given you that luxury.

You weren’t born safe, and you haven’t got a right to liberty. These things must be defended.

On Veterans Day we remember our family members who have stood so tall to defend our liberty and ensure our safety, who have confronted the difficult questions we only play with as spectators, and who by their black-and-white decisions allow us to live in a time and place where we get to debate gray theoreticals.

As always, we live within the safety of their arms. In return, may they always know our loving and grateful embrace.