The North Carolina Council of Churches announces a new peace initiative, N.C. No Torture, to encourage people of faith and seekers of justice to step into the role of “The Good Samaritan.”
When Jesus told the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37), he likely surprised his audience. They would not expect a Samaritan to be the hero because Samaritans were shunned by the mainstream Jewish community. Yet in the story Jesus told, the Samaritan is the one who finally stops to help the beaten and robbed man lying on the side of the road.
He is the third person to come across the wounded traveler, a priest and a Levite, having passed up the chance to show neighborly love. The Samaritan did not require a background check, religion check, or even a health check. He stopped, “bandaged his wounds . . . put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” And it gets better. The next day the Samaritan had to resume his journey, so he paid the innkeeper to take care of the wounded man and promised to settle up on his return journey. This is how you treat people, Jesus explained to the lawyer who asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
In this time of general distrust, not many people are willing to stop on any road to help any person, especially if they have been the target of a governmental sweep in the name of “homeland security.” Such is the case for 48 men and one woman transported in N.C. jets. They have been explicitly identified. Their names are known. Most landed in a CIA black site or the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without charge, representation, or trial, and experienced various forms of torture.
In the same way, the man by the side of the road was beaten and robbed, 49 human beings were beaten and robbed of their lives. Those who have experienced the bellies of the planes of Aero Contractors have been irreparably damaged by the CIA program of extraordinary rendition, interrogation, and torture.
Public records indicate that North Carolina-based planes and pilots carried out over 80% of all CIA renditions from September 2001 to March 2004 from airfields in Johnston County. Britain has admitted a role in two of the cases; European and British courts have confirmed that N.C. jets were involved in these acts. State and local officials have legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prevent, punish, and provide redress of grievances for acts of torture.
The lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” begs a new and contemporary response, given the crimes uncovered. If “The Good Samaritan” is our model for life, then we must be willing to stop, look, and listen to those who have suffered while we have gained economically.
We hope people will join those already on the side of the road to get to know those who lie there beaten and forgotten. Together we can cover the ground with folks who will call on the Governor and the Attorney General to open an inquiry into these illegal and immoral acts of torture. Candlelight vigils will be scheduled in conjunction with unveiling of the Commission of Inquiry on Torture Report Thursday, September 27. Please join us as we seek justice and mercy for the forty nine human beings and their families.