There will come a time when questions regarding right and wrong, fear and trust, revenge and forgiveness, hope and despair, will be the important ones to ask and to answer — a time in which wrongdoing shall prevail and in pursuit of so-called ‘justice’, safety, and an end to fear, more wrongdoing shall be heaped upon what has already taken place. This shall be justified in the name of freedom, liberty, and the preservation of American ideals.
The answer to reducing pain, to protecting loved ones, to preserving freedom – in a word, to enduring – can never come through acts of darkness, cruelty, brutality, or sadism. Pain cannot be reduced, nor love protected, nor freedom preserved by doing what is clearly wrong, even if such action momentarily soothes the heart.
At that time, it will be important to be able to distinguish good from bad. It will be important to be able to cling with our hearts to the principle that it is never right to justify what the heart knows to be wrong because it seems like the only thing to do. It is never the only thing to do. The justification of such action can not only lead to harm toward others, it can also wound the soul, creating consequences that are as severe as the dreaded consequence of feeling helpless.
The answer to reducing pain, to protecting loved ones, to preserving freedom — in a word, to enduring — can never come through acts of darkness, cruelty, brutality, or sadism. Pain cannot be reduced, nor love protected, nor freedom preserved, by doing what is clearly wrong, even if such action momentarily soothes the heart. Murder cannot beget peace. Torture cannot beget truth. Revenge cannot beget an end to pain. And hatred cannot beget an end to suffering, but brings new suffering of its own.
In the times ahead, many will have their hearts tested to see if it is possible to hold fast to the light in the presence of darkness. The light will hold, but only if it is recognized that there is always another way to act and to be, other than through willing corruption of the heart’s truth and the soul’s conscience. Such corruption may justify itself as being reasonable, practical, and effective. It may broadcast its message in order to create false hope through a course of action that diminishes helplessness. This is the deceptive power of darkness — to hide itself in the clothing of convincing language, claiming to bring peace and an end to pain, but in reality bringing far more suffering than was present to begin with. The deception is effective, unless one possesses great clarity of heart, for in this case the heart is more important than the mind and can hold fast to truth, even while the mind may be in doubt. The heart can know things that the mind may not, for the truth it knows is of God and of the deepest moral center that is carried within each human being. It is to this center we each must turn in the presence of deceptive words.
To do this, the question must be asked, always, regarding any behavior or policy — does it reflect love? Not only love for that which has been personally lost or for which protection is sought, but love for the sacredness of life. It is impossible to feel this love and to take life, to abuse it, or to desecrate it. These things are mutually incompatible. Within God’s reality, life is always and eternally sacred, and hatred and murderous intent are always what separates us from God. Such love involves offering the conditions of humane treatment to all; respect for life to all; freedom and protection under the law to all. If love is not extended in this way, if we rush to repay those who have harmed us with harm, we become complicit in the very darkness that we seek to end, and have no hope of victory over it.
This is why torture and sadism in the service of any goal can never be justified. Not only because these methods have shown themselves time and again to be impractical and ineffective, producing false information, offered only on the basis of fear and the desire to end pain. In addition, these actions are inherently disrespectful toward individual life and toward what we have come to understand as the common humanity that underlies all.
Our behavior, when it moves ‘beyond the law’, instead of having the possibility for healing a situation by raising those who have fallen from truth so that they no longer seek to harm or destroy, brings us, instead, to a place where we sink down to the level of darkness in which lies the very source of harm we seek to put an end to. We become complicit in what we abhor, and bring into the world more cause for hatred, anger, and revenge, rather than less. In the service of relief from fear and an end to pain, when we move ‘beyond the law’, both moral and constitutional, we run the risk of sacrificing our own humanity to a goal and action that cannot, in the end, bring what we desire to us. One observer has remarked that torture is not only wrong because it is impractical. It is wrong because in the process, we lose our soul.
All of this would not be of such import today, were it not for the fact that there are forces and motives at work that are taking us, as a nation, beyond the boundaries which our forefathers and the rest of the world recognize as legitimate behavior. We are being viewed by both the past and the present as hypocrites, and as having abandoned the very principles that our country claims to stand for and that lie at the heart of democracy.
In the midst of this movement, it is necessary not only that we become aware, but also that we have hope and trust in God. This trust is, and must be, based on the understanding that no matter what forces are moving us in a particular direction, there are also counterforces at work that are deeply engaged with preserving the rights and liberties of all. In the midst of ascending darkness, these forces are preserving and upholding light. In the midst of helplessness, they are allowing consciousness to strengthen so that another option can reveal itself to those who seek it. It is true, that this alternative path may not become available before the illegitimacy of the ‘beyond the law’ mentality has made itself abundantly clear. But it will become available, as the path of truth and light that God wishes us to go in.
Nations are composed of people as are governments. Both are made of human beings whose consciousness can be affected in various ways by the light that we each hold in our own. This light will uphold the presence of truth in the midst of falseness, and hope in the presence of fear. It will stand firm in the midst of whatever threat faces us so that we, as a people, and as a land dedicated to the principles of liberty and democracy, shall not be deceived by whatever events are to come, but shall remain upright, held in place by the spirit and light of truth which protects us.