Remarks offered at the March 9, 2016 Vigil on Breaking the Silence on Torture co-sponsored with NC Stop Torture Now and the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia.
Every year, all over the world, millions of Christians spend six intense weeks in the spring thinking about the meaning of life. The weeks fall just prior to Easter; we call them Lent. You may have heard the stories of folks using up all the fun food in their pantries, things like lard, sugar, and flour on the eve of Lent. You may have eaten those pancakes at a Shrove Tuesday meal back in February this year. Or maybe you’ve heard about people celebrating and carousing in the days leading up to Lent in interesting places like New Orleans; then again, lots of us have our own Mardi Gras celebrations without ever leaving town.
The fact is it’s good to clear the pantry of distracting food and clear our lives of distracting activity before Lent starts. This frees our hearts, souls, and minds to focus on the meaning of life.
- What does my life mean?
- How shall I live it?
- How does my living inhibit or contribute to the lives of others?
Inevitably, when asking these kinds of deep questions, we will uncover some ignoble answers. We’ve all done things we ought not to have done; we’ve all left undone things we ought to have done. In Lent we name that truth. We make amends when appropriate and possible. We pledge to live differently, to live better, going forward.
Tell the truth.
We’ve gathered here today to tell the truth about North Carolina’s role in the torture programs allowed by our government. We’ve come here to admit that when our government behaves this way, we the people are complicit in the act. Our failure to speak is a failure to begin the process of living differently and changing for the better.
The truth we must name is hard to hear. Torture has happened; hundreds have been harmed physically and psychologically. Torture contradicts the values on which our country was founded. Torture disparages people of faith who claim all humans are created in the image of God. All humans, even those who may have done things they ought not to have done.
Our request is quite simple in this fourth week of Lent. Follow the pattern Christians have used for centuries to discover the meaning of life:
- Tell the truth — Torture happened and the Old North State played a role.
- Make amends — Redress the individual wrong doing wherever possible.
- Live better — Rise to the greatness that defines our nation rather than sink to the tactics that describe our adversaries.
Gov. McCrory, Attorney General Cooper, Senator Burr: join us this Lent. Can we agree to tell the truth? Without that truth, we can never begin to change for the better.