Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wounded Storyteller

As a pre-med student, I must tell you I really enjoyed this book. After reading this book, I had a completely new outlook on how I view the "wounded storyteller" and her story. I found myself thinking back to the stories of illnesses that I have heard and how I reacted to it and I must tell you that I never thought about any of the things Frank's talks about. This is probably because I have never been ill to point were a needed surgery or any other serious treatment. But I must say going to the doctors is an robotic experience. I never really thought about what happens after an ill person is supposedly cured of their disease. I my mind, as naive and inhumane as it sounds it was just: well your cured, so now you can move on with you life. And I guess according to Frank, that is what our modern society tells us about illness.

As a doctor, I do not want to just poke at my patients and not listen to what they have to say about their experiences with the illness, I want them to be an active part of their diagnoses. I think what Frank is getting at is that we need a more inclusive medical system when it comes to patients and doctors. This approach would be beneficial for both doctors and patients. I wished that Frank talked more about is our society moving towards a more postmodern one and if so what has been done to achieve this type of society.

The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

After watching this movie, I was in shock, angry and agitated at what I saw. And as I observed the reactions of others around me, I also saw the same or similar reactions. There were a lot of things that just stuck with me after watching this movie.
The US government justified their "any means necessary" torture policy by asserting that the captured where not prisoners of war but unlawful combatants. And since the Al-Qaeada did not abide by the rules of the Geneva convention, it was seen as okay to treat them as criminals. However, two wrongs do not make a right. Just because these terrorist groups are not following these rules,does it mean that the U.S. doesn't follow these rules because these terrorist are not? No, The United States is known to advocate for human rights and to dismiss the rules of the Geneva Convention when dealing with this alleged terrorist puts us in the same category as them. This goes along with the military keeping the prisoners wife and children in the prison to get information. That is just inhumane and tells the rest of the world that this is what we do as Americans.
Some of the things that the prisoners went through was unbearable and caused more psychological and emotional pain than physical pain. And what is even more unfortunate, is that most if not all of these prisoner had no information that would be helpful to the military. These individuals will be scared for life for no reason at all. The "curing" of mental or emotional or psychological pain is far more difficult than curing physical pain. With that in mind, I get help but be frustrated and angry at that one female soldier that kept on justifying her reasons for taking those humiliating pictures. I almost felt like she did not regret taking those pictures expect that she served some time.

What also bothered me was the fact that the lower-ranking officers were punished, but the high-ranking officials like General Miller and Secretary of State Rumsfield were not. The lower-ranking officers were pretty much used as scapegoats for Abu Ghraib and I believe that in order to show that this kind of despicable behavior should not and will not be allowed those high-ranking officers should be held accountable and punished. They were the ones who were the mastermind of this whole operation, not the low-ranking officers who got punished for what they were told to do.
Many would argue that they would never inflict such inhumane torture to prisoners if they were told to do so by a high-ranking official, but can we really say what we would do in a situation such as that of Abu Ghraib? Can we say that we will not act in the same way as the prison guards did? Well, when we are angry, afraid, and feel threatened do we do? I am by no means justifying what was done, I am just contemplating what would have made this soldiers go along with everything.
The question that still remains to be answered: should pain or torture be used to for social or political ends?

I guess my answer to this question is it depends on the situation. And as easy as it is to answer this question in typing the same is not true in reality. If we think about, our society as well as many others use pain (emotional, psychological, physical, mental, etc) as way to keep order and peace. Is it the type of pain used to torture someone that makes the difference in whether this torture should be allowed or not? If so, how would one categorize capital punishment???? Is is a form of torture? If so should it be allowed?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

I want to start off by saying this graphic representation of the 9/11 commissioners report was excellent in that it was a short and to the point in covering the major findings of the commission and explaining them to the average person. It has an appeal that reading a lengthy text does not have but yet it is quite informative.

After reading this book, I found out the inner details of incidents related to 9/11 that I was not aware of before. The happenings of 9/11 could have been prevented if our government and its agencies took serious and extended action in deterring Osama Bin Ladin and his terrorist regime. What really bothered me is the fact that there was no sharing of crucial information between the FBI and the Justice Department that could have prevented 9/11 altogether or lessened the colossal effects of it. These officials who participated in the withholding of information did not have the American people's safety from pain and suffering as a priority. From Bin Ladin's public declaration of his intent to destroy American soldiers as well as civilians, the 1993 basement bombing of the WTC, the USS ship bombing and countless other incidents that occurred before 9/11, our government should have had ample motivation or proof to take action and improve the nation's counter-terrorism plan.

What is so sad and shameful, is that once 9/11 occurred everything changed- new policies to better protect American citizens and communication between the FBI and Justice Dept happened. Unfortunately, the happenings of 9/11 goes to prove the fact that we are more affected by pain that directly affects us as oppose to the "far-away" pain. It took mass destruction and pain in our land to make it very clear how important homeland security is. Pain that is near and dear has this great power to move us to action.