Behave For The Best
Over the past several years we---as readers of news and observers of the world around us---have been made aware of a change in official American policy towards the treatment of people. This change in attitude has manifest itself in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.
While the mistreatment of those at odds with American policy has always been bubbling below the surface of the world’s perception of the USA, it has always been officially denied by US government officials. The US Government has now written and circulated policy documents that redefine torture to exclude behaviours that any decent person would not consider proper. Under these new rules it is permissible to mistreat prisoners as long as "no permanent physical harm is caused".
Lest anyone reading this think I am picking on the USA, let me point out that other nations are complicit in such immoral behaviours. As a Canadian, the most personal example I can give is the case of Maher Arar; where Mr. Arar was deported to Syria for the purpose of allowing the Syrians to torture him under a cover of Canadian and American plausible deniability.
The latest turn in this tragedy is how Hollywood has, in the name of entertainment, taken up advocacy of this behaviour: in an episode last season (spring 2005) of Fox's “24” action-drama show, one of the characters tortures a prisoner in order to save the day. Allowing the end to justify the means always degrades those who have given themselves over to such means.
It disappoints me that the USA---as the world’s most powerful nation---is not dealing with the world around them in a gracious and generous manner; treating others as they would like to be treated. As a Canadian, it distresses me that my own government has decided to cooperate with our neighbour to the south; hiding behind a schoolyard bully as he persecutes those weaker than himself.
Such immoral behaviour pervades our society and has become acceptable at all levels. Just as our government officials deny all wrongdoing---even as they are presented with hard evidence of their misbehaviour---so, also, do citizens and criminals at all levels claim innocence when caught doing wrong.
We no longer have any shame regarding our behaviour. We see this in the increasing rates of obesity, divorce, and abortion, and the public sentiment that we should do whatever feels good. While society has not completely stopped admiring individuals who persevere through difficult circumstances, society more frequently exalts those who have done what was easy and felt good, instead of what we know in our hearts to be right. Each of us should examine each action we take to ensure that we are not solely seeking to serve ourselves; always seeking to treat others as we we like to be treated, and always attempting to set the example for others that we would like others to set for us to follow.