My recent visit to the Museum of Man in San Diego, California, horrified me when I saw the machines of torture used to inflict extreme pains on a human being. It shows that sometimes we are not as humane as we like to think of ourselves.
Why do we want to inflict extreme pain on an individual? One reason is that we are crazy for we take pleasure in doing it. In many cases, we torture because we hate a person for his/her different beliefs or actions that may damage our self-interests. History is full of stories about people being tortured to death because they were against the king, the church, the dictator, the system or the traditional institutions. Sometimes we torture because the victims belong to a different race, religion or sexual practice.
Torture is a shameful and cowardly act. Everybody knows that torture really hurts, why do you want to inflict it on another person? What pleasure does it give you? The person being tortured is already in your captivity. He/she has already lost the battle against you. As a winner, you can do whatever you please. Torturing is the most cowardly act of revenge. It’s worse than putting the person to death. If you think you are worthy of winning, the best act is to show your mercy to justify your humane character. The Geneva Conventions between 1864 and 1949 aim to establish an international agreement for the conducts of war and the treatment of prisoners. Torture is explicitly condemned and forbidden.
Have you ever noticed that animals do not torture? Only humans do. When a lion captures its prey, it breaks the neck to kill first, then proceed to eat. Humans are different. They take pleasure in locking up wild animals in the zoo, train them to perform unnatural acts in the circus, and mistreat them while keeping them at home as so-called pets. There is no doubt that humans are the winners in the animal kingdom. As winners, do we have the conscience and courage to ask whether we should show mercy to the rest? Showing mercy and protection also serves human needs. We need all the wildlife in the world to sustain a balance which our healthy living depends. Without mercy and control of exploitation, we risk putting the whole world in danger.
The same is true with the natural environment and the plant kingdom. Humans are the only force that can protect or ruin. Constant exploitation without thinking about protection and regeneration will lead to eventual depletion of all natural resources.
Humans are already the winners. We have enough nuclear bombs to destroy the world several times over. The irony is that we live in this world that cannot be destroyed. We must exercise responsibility and mercy toward the natural world and all lives in it. Continuous exploitation without protection for sustainability will put our future in danger. Then the winner will eventually wind up being loser.