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A Generational Gap from Hell

April 15, 2011, 3:48 pm | Posted by ggraves-fitzsimmons

Torture_Inquisition.jpgI grew up watching war. Only eleven years old on 9/11, I came of age with my country fighting two wars in distant lands. I understood terrorists threatened my way of life and that my country would take any steps necessary to win the war on terror.

I grew up watching 24. I cheered as Jack Bauer tortured terrorists and always saved innocent people from death. In between bomb explosions, Jack always found time to make the argument that the ends justify the means.

But I also grew up in a strong faith community. I learned in Sunday school to pray for my enemies. I read my church’s Social Principles that state point blank: “the mistreatment or torture of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever and whenever it occurs.” My faith counteracted the culture. WWJD led me to ask what Jesus would do, not what Jack would do.

My peers appear to be asking themselves what Jack would do. A painfully alarming study released this week by the American Red Cross shows that young people approve of torture more than adults. Daniel Stone at The Daily Beast investigated potential cultural reasons:

Legal scholars see societal influences that may be responsible for de-stigmatizing torture, including increasingly graphic media. “I think it suggests the national conscious is becoming more and more corroded and more accustomed to the violation of fundamental principles of human rights and international law,” says Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, who blames programs like 24 that trivialize serious issues.

We, the young generation raised on war, have had the benefits of torture seared into our minds for as long as we can remember. We appear as a whole not to believe in the other side of the story: the dignity of life, the respect for human rights, the religious doctrine against torture. Hopefully it’s because we haven’t heard the other side. The case for torture played throughout our youth every Monday night at 8. Hopefully Sunday mornings at 11, we can get the faith side.

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons is an intern at Faith in Public Life.

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