Torture. I’ve been thinking about that lately. Not in a “50 Shades of Grey,” S&M kind of way, either. If only.
After giving it some thought, I don’t think it would take much to torture me or any other American for that matter. We are so used to being comfortable. It is our great quest in this world. Complete and utter comfort.
I imagine not the worst possible scenarios, but even the simplest, and I think I would give in. I think I would talk.
Just turn off the air conditioning on a summer day. Give me water without ice. Make me wear a headband that is too tight. Or make me wear socks to bed (oh God, the horror!). Or maybe an NRA hat and “I love Trump” shirt. Make me listen to country music. And I don’t even want to think about smells! Pretty much anything that smells bad will do me in. Like cat litter, farts, vomit, smelly feet, rotten meat, you get the picture (gag!). Or what about something that smells good? Like warm and squishy McDonald’s french fries? Let me smell them, but don’t let me eat them! None of these actually cause pain, so maybe a paper cut or dropping a can of soup on my toe! I’m telling you, it wouldn’t take much!
But what about true torture? The kind that any normal human would never even imagine? Would never want to do to another living creature. The kind that drops poison gas on children or locks dogs in cages for weeks without food or water. Humans did those things. Humans like me.
It was discovered this week that an animal trainer right next door to my medical practice, one that I took my dog to for agility training about a year ago, had abandoned at least 8 dogs without food or water in their building. Only 5 remained alive when they were found and to be alive under those conditions is being incredibly generous. Poisoned children and starved and neglected dogs all in one week! It’s just about more than I can bear. It’s like…torture.
The evil that can inspire such cruelty lives in me, too. It’s in my human DNA. It’s there, lurking. If it were an appendage, if evil grew from my body and became my right arm, I would cut it off! I would want nothing to do with it! I would live the rest of my life without my right arm and without any possibility of associating myself with those kind of people, that kind of evil. But alas, it is not that easy. The evil within me, within humanity is a moving target, an ever changing amoeba, it can not be captured or removed. And in an ironic twist, it can be justified and made righteous.
It’s war! Innocent people will be caught in the crossfire. It happens, civilian casualties are expected. They are just dogs, there are children starving too! You can’t save the world, you just gotta save yourself. It’s God’s will.
Justifying the evil that men (and women) do is really a way to provide comfort. It is incredibly uncomfortable to face the evil in others because it means we have to face the evil in us. Because in my mind, I’m one of the good guys.
(Please check out one of my favorite bloggers, themdmuse who in so many ways inspired this post. He’s a fellow doc, on the other side of the world, hurried and worried, trying to make sense of the world and continuing to do good in spite of it all. This is his response to the recent atrocities in Syria….
As a rule, I try not to watch gory videos. The news in print already stirs up my imagination in ways that scare the very underpants out of me. However, these videos manage to exceed my imagination in the length of their cruelty and the breadth of their heartlessness. I wonder how much wickedness it would take to come up with such acts. I wonder how someone could live like this. I wonder if these perpetrators have families- wives, sisters, children. When they look at them, how can they not see the dozens and scores of men, women and children they have wounded, maimed and killed? Such mindless violence scares me. I wonder if these people are human being like me, does that mean there is a part of me that is capable of this? The thought alone scares me silly. I’m sorry, I’m ranting all over your post, but I’m barely holding it together. And to think I’d already seen the very dregs of human decadence right here…)