Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gave an anti-torture party, but nobody came

Well, I was really prepared, and the classroom at De Sales was a modern technological wonder. I was able to hook up my laptop to project my PowerPoint presentation and even toggle back to the resident PC on the instructor station to project from the Internet. I was really excited that I would be able to use my PowerPoint presentation as a focus point and also that I'd be able to show the clip from "24" showing Jack Bauer's delicate interrogation technique, part of Jane Mayer's report on the show.

However --as you know if you paid attention to the title of this blog entry-- no one chose to attend. Just too much good stuff going on at Annual Sessions, too many workshops to choose from. all my handouts and my PowerPoint all ready for the next opportunity.

Have to admit, I felt a bit resentful at first. I had put a good bit of time into updating my presentation and doing the photocopying, and I even used a vacation day. However, my brothers and sisters at our meeting this morning were really sympathetic and made me feel a whole lot better. I was sort of berating myself for not doing enough to publicize the event, but then I remembered that I had been expressly asked to facilitate the workshop and had been told that there was a lot of interest.

Well, going to take a break from torture this week. Looking back on this past year since attending the QUIT conference, I have to say that I've really given myself a crash course in US-sponsored torture. I think I know more about it than I ever wanted to know and I also know all the best ways to keep up-to-date. I subscribe to all the key blogs and have read at least parts of all the important books...can't wait for the major motion picture (...OK, bad joke).

I sure wish I could give the Guantánamo prisoners a break too...but I can only send love and prayers...and also pray for our elected representatives and soon-to-be-elected President. As Bill Samuel (who keeps running) reminded someone recently: "Do remember it is not your job to change hearts. It is God's. It is your job to be an example of a changed heart." So this week I'm going to recuperate a bit and try to think of how else I can model a changed heart. (Thanks, Bill!)

Have to get geared up for NRCAT's new campaign also, targeting the heart of the President-to-be.

Got a wonderful letter from Julius and also from a Marie-France who translates letters to and from him from French penpals. I love making new friends!

By the way, PYM's standing committee on Peace & Concerns recently started publishing a great newsletter: Hope Bulletin. I wrote an article for the August issue. Time to write another letter to the local paper too, maybe. Think I'll entitle it "Where in the world is Diego Garcia?"


  1. How frustrating! After all that physical and mental preparation. At least, as you say, you have it prepared now.

    This is the trouble sometimes with numerous workshops running at the same time. And I guess "torture" is a hard sell.

    Our small sangha ran an introductory day on pureland buddhism last year. The four of us planned the structure to the day, organised food, prepared talks and practice, sent out emails and leafleted the usual places.... and one person turned up - ho hum... he stayed though and is still with us most weeks.


  2. I hope you will have a change to present your program in another context where there aren distractions from such a worthy topic.


  3. Sometimes I get really hung up on results, so I can sympathize with your frustration. Results can be important, to be sure, but that tends to de-emphasize the process and the preparation as well as commitment. We can't always know when and where our dedication will "pay off", when the preparation will meet the right circumstances to produce the hoped for effect. But your labors are not in vain. Dedicating ourselves to caring and educating and inspiring, that is, devoting ourselves to our concern for others, is always worth the effort. Each step taken in love and devotion for the sacred other present in all human beings honors it and makes the world a bit better, a bit brighter.

    Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the world a little brighter.

  4. Thanks, ray, cathy, and tinythinker, for the words of wisdom and encouragement.

    I've been on vacation for a week...figuring that a bit of distance from the torture question would do me good. Funny how it never really leaves me. Seems to be something that's become almost a part of my physical and psychological make-up. So I'll be thinking of new ways to get the message out!


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