Thank you for this program, and thank you also to mockymur for a well stated expression of the value in a conversation on torture. I agree entirely that either blaming a victim or simply 'not hearing' statements of trauma experience (denial) is common.
As the program neared its end my thoughts turned to a broader form of cultural practices that I believe is related - that is our treatment of food animals during their lives and at slaughter, and also our treatment of animals for other commercial purposes such as cosmetics. For the most part all this is out of sight, out of mind. But I cannot help but imagine what it is like to be a worker who works directly with these animals. Surely they cannot do their work without shutting down their innate sense of compassion. How dreadful that those of us who do not have these forms of employment somewhat mindlessly enjoy the products that come from these processes. The workers 'shut their hearts' to what is happening to the animals, and the rest of us 'shut our hearts' to what is happening to both the workers and the animals! I have extensive farm experience with animals and a clear knowledge of their response to stress, their capacity to demonstrate confusion and very great discomfort in anticipation of something they do not understand, especially if the scent of blood is involved, i.e. dehorning cattle. (After 20 years raising livestock, I was unable to send livestock off to commercial feedlots and eventual slaughter because I knew the conditions there. I no longer farm.)
I do not want to detract from the most supreme type of torture - human on human, but I believe we begin learning at a very early age to shut down the part of us that is spontaneously horrified by abuse. I have also been a teacher of young children. I have many years observation of their natural inclination toward compassion, and their discomfort when injustice, or more noticeable unkindness, comes to their attention. From my observation when children witness power (adults) creating pain or injustice, they begin to develop vague fears for their personal safety. They may say nothing, but it shows on their faces. This includes adult attitudes toward animals. Children are - without much direct prompting - forced to 'adjust' and learn to swallow the innate impulse to compassion because the entire adult culture has learned to do the same and no longer gives it any thought. Childhood awareness of this kind of suffering continues, and perhaps one can say 'hearts shut down' at least in this one significant way.
Perhaps something as seemingly innocuous as broad cultural acceptance of non-human abuse leads a percentage of individuals - over time - to accept even the most extreme forms of torture such as discussed on the program. We learn to shut down our inner compassion long enough to concur or participate, or we say it was 'unfortunately necessary', or we say it was deserved, or we teach ourselves not to think about something so dreadful, or we fear consequences of piping up in protest.
A huge topic, one at the very heart of our human self-understanding.
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