A brief essay on torture

April 8, 2010 at 1:36 am (Uncategorized)

Welcome to Political Science 338: American Foreign Policy.

So, it’s 1 in the morning and I should be writing a 5-7 page paper about the torture of terrorists that is due at 9:30 tomorrow morning. However I am here, stagnating, and feeling just angsty enough to blog. Spellchecker doesn’t think angsty is a word, but it doesn’t really know anything. I know how I feel about torture, personally. I find it abhorrent and wrong, not to mention the fact that it doesn’t work. Reading through 15 journal articles to find someone more credible than myself to agree, though, is not a job I relish. Oh well, I’m 1/3 of the way through a 24 ounce amp that should keep me up all night.

The most difficult part of Buddhism for me (you’ll notice I write about it a lot, because it’s something I think about a lot) is controlling myself. Because all things are transitory, especially emotions, you can’t hang on to them. The emotions aren’t yours, they just are something that arises in response to an outside stimulus. You hurt yourself trying to grab at something that isn’t there. It’s easy enough to understand letting go of anger, obviously that can help. The harder part is letting go of happiness, knowing that it too will soon pass and you will have to deal with whatever the present moment of emotion in your life is. I deal with anger well enough, generally. Sometimes I get upset, but I’m usually able to calm myself down. Dealing with elation, though…that’s much trickier. Especially when I try to combine Buddhism with theatre. In acting, I need to feel emotions, be emotions, and the thing about acting is that most of our pain comes from trying to hold onto emotions. So to act I have to cause myself harm. It’s an interesting concept. Perhaps slightly masochistic, really, but it’s hard to say. Physical pain and psychological and mental pain are different animals. I would argue that physical pain is relatively easy to deal with. You can have terrible things happen to your body, but a strong mind can overcome. A weak mind, though…it can break you. Thus, I seek to cultivate in myself a strong mind. To be on the path at least, with the thought of one day perhaps nearing the goal.

Speaking of goals, I do wonder sometimes where I’m headed with everything I’m doing. Frankly, I would prefer to be doing theatre this summer, IRT, Couer D’Alene summer theatre, whatever. For career advancement, though, it would be prudent to find a political internship. So that’s what I’m doing. It’s not that I won’t enjoy the political stuff, I really do. It’s just hard to know that I could be doing something more enjoyable. I wonder sometimes if I made the right decision, leaving the theatre department. Leaving is a sort of loaded word, though, because I certainly didn’t make it very far away. Does it feel like I always write about the same sorts of things? I certainly feel like I do.

Always swimming in circles, somehow ending up in the same place again and again.

I think my biggest problem is that I still don’t really know what I want to be doing with my life. I like theatre a lot, I like political science a lot, but I don’t obsess over either, they’re both enjoyable in their own way but I feel a sense of lacking. Like Avenue Q…I don’t have my purpose yet. Though if I took anything away from that show, it’s that I might never find my particular purpose. And apparently people can be happy with that. Maybe it’s making other people happy. I certainly take more stock in humanity than I do in anything else. The well being of each individual is much more important than how well Congress deliberates or me singing on key. Though perhaps doing either of those things well will contribute to the greater happiness of humanity in ways that I am unable at this time to fully appreciate.

I’ve been told I’m a good writer, and my scores in school have generally backed this up. I’ve always been interested by the disconnect that often occurs between people’s writing and their thought process. When I write, I just take the things that are in my head and put them down onto paper (or the electronic facsimile of). I feel that it must be the same for everyone else, though it isn’t ever something I’ve ever talked about at any length with anyone before. It’s not a general topic of conversation. I see people that write poorly, or use a million abbreviations and misspellings, and I think that they must have these brilliant thoughts in their head…so why are they not communicating them? Perhaps they have difficulty doing that through writing. It’s just difficult for me to wrap my head around.

I suppose there are trade offs, though. I often find it difficult to communicate exactly what I want to say when speaking. Often, the things that come into my head would be somewhat ridiculous if they came out of my mouth. Sometimes I’m just filled with love for everyone around me, and I want to tell everyone that they have value, and that they are wonderful, and they should stop thinking so little of themselves and recognize that they are so important to me and everyone around them…but how do I go about saying that? So I try to compliment people in little ways, when I can, and hope that they understand what I mean. Do they? I don’t know. I’d like to think that the people in my life know that I love them, or at least understand it at a visceral level.

Things I like right now:

  • Caffeine
  • Serenity
  • Calmness

Things I do not like right now:

  • Being upset
  • Torture
  • Lack of concentration

For a buddhist, or someone who is at least endeavoring to be on that path, I have terrible concentration. That’s not completely true…I have concentration on the wrong things at the wrong times. I suppose I need to meditate more. I really don’t do enough of it.

If there is a God, or god, or dog, or whatever, I’d like to make a little prayer. That the world grows a bit brighter each day, that we are all moving towards the understanding of a universal harmony, and that we show each other how we feel a little more.

To all the people who have been in my life, centrally, or peripherally, I care about you deeply. I think about all the people I have known, from grade school, family, everyone I’ve ever played sports with, the people who I’ve acted beside, the people who I’ve sung with, and some who I’ve done all of those things with.

We’re all just in one big web. Six degrees of separation, right? Not so far. Someday, maybe I’ll know you all. Maybe I already do…you’re just a part of me, and I don’t know it.

In conclusion,torture is bad. Don’t do it. To yourself or others.

The end



  1. Kathleen said,

    You are not only distracting yourself, my friend. I suppose it’s my fault, though. I should be able to go 10 minutes without looking at my Facebook feed…however….

    I don’t have anything too pertinent to say, just that I smile a little reading this writing, having read notes, letters, and blogs of yours for quite some time now. Still the same ol’ Jordan. Questioning everything, thinking wayyyyyyyyyyyyy to hard. 😉

    Next time I’ll say something worthwhile. I’ll attempt to solve one of your dilemmas, perhaps.

  2. Kathleen said,


  3. beth, duh said,

    Dear Jordan,
    I like everything about this post. Also, I will be back in Idaho at the end of May and we need to hang out. So once you decide where you’re going to be this summer, tell me so I can show up at your doorstep one day and we can get coffee and chat about life.
    Love, Beth

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