A Lens on Killing and Forgiveness

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and, over at The New York Times Magazine, a photographer has put together a series of portraits of Rwandans who have reconciled with the people who killed their friends and families. The people who agreed to be photographed are part of a continuing national effort toward reconciliation and worked closely with AMI (Association Modeste et Innocent), a nonprofit organization. In AMI’s program, small groups of Hutus and Tutsis are co … [Read more...]

World Vision, Bad Science, and Living Death Sentences

Here's the round-up of the posts I've done this week at The American Conservative, starting with the most timely one.The Perils of Workplace Purges Two organizations stumbled into controversy this week over employment and gay marriage. World Vision, a Christian organization that provides humanitarian aid, announced it would hire staff in gay marriages (previously, this was a violation of the employee code of conduct) and then, two days later, reversed the decision. Meanwhile, at Mozilla, t … [Read more...]

Warfare “as obscene as cancer”

During the debate over the proper response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, I kept waiting for articles to quote Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and, eventually, I decided to write one myself.  I'm over at The Huffington Post today talking about why we find chemical weapons uniquely horrifying, and whether more types of warfare should provoke that same kind of visceral revulsion. Death by IED or drone has perhaps not yet found its poet. How do we weigh the suffering of a victim … [Read more...]

A Dicey Way Out of Dilemmas

In response to yesterday's post on breaking promises, KristeninDallas made an alternate suggestion: I'm not saying he should keep his promise, but I am saying he should feel at least a little bad about breaking it. We seem to have this need to rationalize everything and figure out the best choice and then pat ourselves on the back/ let ourselves off the hook when we make it. When we're choosing between two clear goods, the pat is well earned. But when choosing the lesser of evils, I think we … [Read more...]

The Self-Inflicted Wound of the Torturer

In C.S. Lewis's Of Other Worlds, most of the selections in the book are critical essays, but there a few pieces of fiction included, one of which is a never completed novel that C.S. Lewis meant to write about Menelaus and Helen during and after the Trojan War.  In the excerpt below, Menelaus stops fantasizing about torturing Helen if he regains her. [H]e wouldn't torture her.  He saw that was nonsense.  Torture was all very well for getting information; it was no real use for revenge.  All peop … [Read more...]

What should we be hurt by?

Poking around the internet, I ran across two interesting articles that seemed to be linked only by offhand comments about the legitimacy or 'realness' of certain kinds of suffering.  First, from a Mother Jones piece on PTSD: Whatever is happening to Caleb, it's as old as war itself. The ancient historian Herodotus told of Greeks being honorably dismissed for being "out of heart" and "unwilling to encounter danger." Civil War doctors, who couldn't think of any other thing that might be un … [Read more...]

The Day After Veterans Day

Veterans Day occurred yesterday in the U.S.  It's a federal holiday for the recognition of all veterans and coincides with the international recognition of Remembrance Armistice Day at the end of World War I.  I thought it would be appropriate to follow a day of recognition of what soldiers did in the wars with a few articles about what they do after.  Troops returning home may mark a technical cessation of hostilities, but there's more to do to bind up the wounds of the confl … [Read more...]