The Torture Memos: A Teachable Moment

Every day for at least a week, the media have been adding information to the ever-growing story of the torture that occurred at Guantanamo Bay. Whether or not you personally believe that the techniques of “enhanced interrogation” are torture, and whether or not you are discussing this issue with your children, I want to share this idea: the now-infamous torture memos have created a teachable moment in which to discuss The Geneva Conventions.

While researching a future article for my other site, I found a copy of the Geneva Convention Articles that pertain to treatment of prisoners of war. They are very readable, and I think they represent an inspiring attempt to conduct ourselves at a high level of humanity, even in our dealings with “the enemy.”

In a strange way, they also remind me of board game instructions, which I suppose they are, if you think of war as a game played by powerful men who have outgrown childish toys.

The Articles of the Geneva Convention are a primary source that I think few of us have actually read. If you do read them with your children, they provide much food for thought and discussion:

  • Do you believe a prisoner of war should be allowed to do this or that?
  • Why do you think prisoners deserve or do not deserve that right?
  • Would you want that right if you were a soldier who was captured by the other side?
  • Whatever the world brings us, it always brings the teachable moment.


    3 Responses so far »

    1. 1

      pacer521 said,

      very interesting view on torture. I just wrote a similar post — check it out.

    2. 2

      phyllis said,

      Thank you for this. I am printing these out now and we will have a family dicussion this weekend. We feel strongly about the torture issue … to me it is mind boggling that it is even an issue today in 2009. What a terrific link — thank again. You are the best. Luv, Phyllis

    3. 3

      Karen said,

      Hi Susan,
      I have shied away from reading this post, because it’s about, well, torture, which makes me feel kind of squeamish. But I am glad I read it! You bring up a very good idea, and it made me think more about the Geneva Conventions than I ever really have.
      Thank you for this, I think I will read the Conventions and talk about them with my boys, who love war games and perhaps need to know more about the consequences of war.

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