I smile to myself in the darkness, as I shuffle down a cold, concrete hallway — companion on each arm — the ringing and clanging of chains echo against walls I can only hear, but cannot touch. Their grasp was unkind and fierce; I had nowhere else to go today and could barely move the chains along as I shuffle to keep up.
They seem to know where I was going, and why, but I have forgotten. I can only smell the dampness, the mold and the musty odor of a blackened hood through which I can barely breathe — and I smile to myself again. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is reflex, for now habit has become unhinged and in accord with some sweet music I cannot account for, I can only feel.
I stumble — once, twice, maybe three times — I can’t seem to remember how to walk. Or, perhaps I am tired. The day has been long.
But I am beginning to recall something familiar, something awful, something I cannot control my revulsion of as I am quickly bound to a hard wooden plank and plunged backward and down, down, down. I am screaming, I am crying, I am gurgling. My nose is on fire because of water trying to wash me away, trying to baptize me into some strange religion where people smile for no reason and exchange pleasantries like long, lost lovers come to call. My chest heaves a mighty heave — almost explodes — for I have lost complete control of what my body is doing and why. What is anything for.
I feel warm water in my pants, again, but I no longer have anything left in my bowels to give. My body fights and contorts as I lose my religion, once again becoming baptized into a world where I see myself from high above, looking down. Once I was frightened of this place, but no more.
If this is death, I welcome it, for there is no fear or dread here.
The battle is over and I have lost, only to discover that I have really won. I am the one who smiles now for no reason and they are the ones who are driven mad as dogs trying to own what is not theirs, trying to control what is no longer of any use to me.
A thunderous heave slams into my chest and, suddenly, I am back under my hood again. I do not know what day it is, but I do know that it is over. They have rocked me back up. They are done. Now I get to be pulled back to my cell where I can be alone and away from those who try so hard to enlighten me and relieve me of the burdens of this world. I welcome their gifts of love with grace and a smile. I wish I weren’t so difficult to teach. Yet I have learned so very much so quickly!
This time is different. This time they have placed me in a nice bed of linen on wheels. I no longer have to walk. This is good, but I can barely take any breath at all in before my chest pounds with a sharp, stabbing pain. No matter. I don’t need much air now. Just enough to get to my cell where I can rest and review the learnings of my day.
Some call this torture, but I call it “release.” For, in only a single day I have learned of my powerlessness over what must always be, and the need I have to embrace my insanity fully. To run from it is pointless; it can only be embraced whole-heartedly as a manifestation of my deepest, most mysterious self. I love my self and never could I say that before. This is why I smile — I am free.
Please tell others of this marvelous truth — torture is beauty! We have found the grail and it was in our midst all along — John the Baptist tried to teach us all and we totally misunderstood his gift. So much joy, so quickly, my heart wants to burst.
* * * * *
The United States of America, signatory to the Convention Against Torture, has “baptized” several thousand innocent persons from all over the world since the fall of Nazi Germany in 1944. The purpose of these “baptisms” has been the systematic terrorizing and pacification of free and autonomous people so that corporations using United States military might would have free and unfettered reign over the natural resources of indigenous peoples.
The beauty of torture is not that it reveals a higher truth to those we have tormented into submission and defeat; the beauty of torture is that we have come to learn that only under the most severe disturbances of physical and psychological comfort will one human being profess or agree to anything as insane as killing or oppressing other human beings for economic or political gain.
In other words, torture has taught us that the vast majority of us really do want peace on Earth and good will towards our fellows. We have to literally be tortured and tormented out of our mind before we will let go of our genuine love and concern for one another. And even then, our sentiments are often half-hearted.
The question becomes, then — who is behind the torturers, and why do they want or need people to hate other people?