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Torture 

"Torture survivors live among us. If you saw one at the grocery store, you wouldn't notice their wounds covered by clothing or the rapid pace of their hearts in response to a siren. You wouldn't hear the cries from their recurring nightmares. You couldn't know about the constant headaches pounding behind their eyes."

So writes Marge Pellegrino in "Torture Survivors." There are a million survivors of torture today in the world, she tells us, and some of these are being treated in Tucson by the Hopi Foundation's Center for Prevention and Resolution of Violence.

These survivors have been subjected to the worst behavior, short of murder, that humans can inflict upon one another. It is not a pretty story, but a compelling one.

Two weeks ago, I listened as Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and former political prisoner of the Chinese, described the brutal physical and psychological torture he underwent during 33 years in prison. He survived to witness to people worldwide, including a University of Arizona audience.

What impressed me about Gyatso, beyond his resolve to tell his story over and over to keep it alive, was his profession of forgiveness for his tormentors. That, it seems to me, is central to his healing.

And so it must be for those at the Hopi Foundation center, which is dedicated, remember, to "prevention and resolution of violence."

Retribution perpetrates violence, it does not prevent or resolve it. This is worth remembering in these uncertain times of war and terror abroad and here in the United States. When we speak of American resolve, then, it seems to me we must speak of more than muscle.

More by Michael Parnell

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