Why Torture is Wrong

Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them. With that title, I didn’t know what to expect. Last night I was pleasantly surprised as I watched this play by Christopher Durang at NDSU. (BTW, my son’s girlfriend, Sarah, played the role of the mother Luella brilliantly!)

As the title suggests, the subject matter is dark. I would describe it as a social comment on all kinds of taboo subjects like torture, testosterone-fueled violence, self-justification for very bad behavior, and dysfunctional families. Yet I laughed.  One of my favorite lines comes from Luella, who lives life through the theater as a way to avoid facing her real life. After her daughter expresses hate for the theater, Luella gasps: “Oh, darling, it’s life you should hate, not theater. Life’s based on theater isn’t it?” Her perky quirks subtly cover up something much darker. Through each scene, the characters move the set pieces around to construct the setting, much like they manipulate their realities to fit their bizarre worldviews.

It is also an over-the-top critique of all things right wing. But that is not why I liked (or disliked) it. Rather I liked it because it has the potential to open up the conversation. By treating such serious subjects with enough absurdity that it makes us laugh (and yes, feel a little guilty about laughing), it in turn causes us to think. God has blessed (or cursed) me with a firm, middle-of-the-road view of politics. I see the point of view from both sides and do not blame society’s woes solely on the left or the right. As I see it, both sides have their positive and negative contributions. Where I get discouraged is when hubris causes the conversation to shut down. We have developed an “us-against-them” mentality, instead of a “we’re-all-in-this-together-and-let’s-try-to-figure-it-out” mentality.

Yea, kind of Pollyanna of me to hope for that. For the most part, we have lost the ability to have an open conversation with others who have a different viewpoint than we do. Yet we can learn so much from each other.

Being Human connection: We all like to believe that what we believe is right, but wouldn’t it benefit us to listen to one another, learn from one another, and put into practice the art of humility.

“Fullness of knowledge always and necessarily means some understanding of the depths of our ignorance, and that is always conducive to both humility and reverence.”

— Robert A. Millikan

Photo by Kensie Wallner.