Yoga and Torture, 13th Anniversary of Guantanamo

 I went down to DC over the weekend with activist friends Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait and Andy Worthington who’s been writing and researching about Guantanamo since 2006.
 I’m glad more people are bringing to light the dark topics of abuse, Torture, indefinite detention, and what it does to people. And not just the victims but, the perpetrators also. I find it hard to believe that “grown” people would ever engage in this kind of behavior. The violence, abuse, the everyone- for- yourself mentality, the lack of real love and support I grew up with forced me to read and learn how to have healthier relationships. It was a natural response to the trauma I was surrounded by. How we’re now living in a world where people hold other human beings against their will without charge or trial and Torture them is simply beyond my comprehension. Maybe its because I was young when the abuse happened and still in touch with the, undamaged, instinctual  part of myself that I was smart enough to listen to and trust my body’s intelligence to direct me. I wanted Nothing more than to love and have healthy, fulfilling relationships. I thought other people knew how and already had that. I thought the rest of the world was raised healthier than me. Clearly, I was wrong.
 What makes people come to participate, condone or look the other way when other human beings are being so mistreated? What is it about those doing the inflicting that makes them do it?
 It was very emotional being at all these talks and events where people were actually standing up against the treatment I’ve tried to get people to stand up against all my life. At times I couldn’t contain my tears and sobbed. I longed for someone to stand up for me when I was a child, or at least stand with me when I stood up for myself. I felt jealous of the support the men in Guantanamo were getting. I feel that by being around it I might be able to steal some support for myself, that drops of the strength and courage people express on behalf of these men will sprinkle down over me.
 I’m dying to speak up and talk about the torture and abuse I experienced growing up by the very people who are supposed to love and protect you. The fear of  admonishment  and that I’d get the same responses I’ve heard a million times in my life, “oh, get over it”, not be taken seriously, or that my abuse doesn’t compare to what the men in Guantanamo are going through. Yet, abuse when you’re a child at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect and love you more than anyone, is more torturous than anything. Many of the detainees at Gitmo have families that love them.
 At a young age I knew better than most “adults” around me and started to read about what healthy relationships are and how they’re supposed to function. What the signs and symptoms of abusive, dysfunctional relationships are. Obviously, these are not teachings and skills our society values or they would be more prevalent. Of course, the PTB don’t “profit” by people learning healthy relationship skills and listening to each other. Even though, the fact is, they Do benefit.
 I turned to fitness, things like weight training and Yoga practice to get the Visceral feeling of where the line was between harming and building. I used to hear when I was growing up things like, “having a hard life builds character”, things to that effect, so the perp can excuse themselves of any wrong doing. My insides told a different story and I’ll take what the body says over what anyone else says any day! People, literally, used to tell me not to listen to or to trust what I felt and what my body knew.
 By working out with weights it gave me something visceral to push up against. Something that wasn’t going to lie, cheat, abuse, manipulate, undermine or deny. The facts were right there. The answer was right there and I controlled it. Training with heavy weights helped to relieve some of the pent up rage I was experiencing from growing up. It was a way to seek where the internal wound was and attempt to sew it back together.
 The relationship techniques I was teaching myself was the other way I attempted to “sew” wounds back together. Like weight training it was my attempt at strengthening and making fit relationships with people. To try to put back together and repair the wounds I sustained  growing up. Finding other people who were willing and who wanted healthy, fit and loving relationships as I did. War is terribly destructive especially when its going on in the home. Bombs being dropped on innocent civilians is a horrible thing but, so is a child living with warring or abusive parents. War is war, fighting is fighting. Not acknowledging the damage
 I heard Ray McGovern and many other speakers say over the weekend, quoting Gen John Kimmons, “no good information can ever come from abusive interrogation practices”, something to that effect. Like parents should not hit their children but, history actually encourages abuse and corporal punishment in child-rearing as normal.
 Yoga practice teaches balancing the hard & the soft. Getting back to the way nature functions and that all we can do is create the conditions for the poses to happen. We can’t force it. Physics will only push back. Nature can’t be forced. All force does is blowback in your face.
 Strange how less force, less aggression, more cooperation and taking the time is never an option with the Military/Gov, Corps. or Wall St. They may think they’re “getting” by the use of force but, what are they really getting? A vicious cycle. The info from a prisoner being tortured is not reliable. Anyone would say anything to get the torture to stop.
 Most people tell “authority” what they want to hear. Most behavior in the world comes from threat, fear, coercion. That’s how most people we’re “raised”,through Fear. Not respect or reason, taking the time to teach or explain so children understand. Its the Capitalistic way of child-rearing. Don’t have the time to do things right. Too busy so the debt builds up over time.
  Even Miko Peled, in his book, The General’s Son, wrote about his Martial Art studio that he runs in San Diego and how it was Martial Arts training that taught him to balance aggression with compassion, the opposite of how he was trained by the IDF. He said, the IDF strip you down then build you up to be a killing machine.
This is exactly why I turned to Yoga, meditation and Fitness at a young age. I was past my eyeballs in stress from growing up in a warring “home”. I wanted Peace so badly, wanted to learn healthy relationship skills so badly that I lived it every minute of every day. Of course, I wanted it more than others because of how I grew up being so oppressed that I tried to “get along” with people too hard. The “peace” I was seeking so badly always came at my own expense which made it Not peace at all. It’s difficult when you start out imbalanced to find balance without help from others but, there is no help. People don’t understand or take the time to connect so the imbalance perpetuates indefinitely.
 Spending the weekend listening to the Peace Poets from the Bronx recite their poetry in support of the prisoners at Gitmo who’ve been indefinitely detained without trial for over 10 years and have not been found guilty of any crimes yet, have not been released even though many have been cleared since 2006, brings up feelings of my own abuses.  I feel drawn to join in the because I’m reminded of my growing up when I hear the stories of these men. At all the talks, meetings and events I attended its always the same. I say to myself, “I’ve been saying that since I’m 6, been saying that since I’m 7”, and no one listened. I had, and fear I will always have, only myself to stand up for. There are many people in this world being and who have been abused and receive no justice. The definition of our entire World may as well be abuse because that’s all we can have as long as we have a few people with too much power and an insatiable lust for more on an Earth that is limited and runs at a slower pace.


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