The Common Good
July 2011

From the Editors

by The Editors | July 2011

Using online and wireless communication to organize large, diverse groups of people has been a key component of the nonviolent Arab Spring uprisings.

Using online and wireless communication to organize large, diverse groups of people has been a key component of the nonviolent Arab Spring uprisings. But these tools aren’t just for deposing dictators -- organizers are finding new ways to use them here in the U.S., from defending individuals under threat of deportation to spurring nationwide public rallies around key political issues. As Jeannie Choi writes in our cover feature, "A Web of Power," the best tech-savvy organizers are rooted in the same priorities that have shaped successful movements for decades -- listening to, learning from, and communicating with people to mobilize them to create change.

We’re finalizing this issue soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden. Some former Bush administration officials have claimed that without so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," bin Laden never would have been found. But CIA chief Leon Panetta explained that such techniques actually provided false leads in the search for bin Laden. Writing in The Washington Post, torture survivor Sen. John McCain countered the Bush officials’ claims and asserted the need for moral clarity when it comes to torture: "Ultimately, this is more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate. It is about who we are."

The church ought to be a source for such moral clarity -- but in fact many American Christians are in favor of the use of torture. In "The Body in Pain," Robin Kirk, executive director of the Duke Human Rights Center, writes about efforts by church activists, ethicists, and leaders to educate Christians on why torture is anathema to our faith and to spur more of us to lift up a voice of conscience in the public debate.

Writing from firsthand experience of situations where torture might happen, Evan Knappenberger, a former Army intelligence analyst, meditates on the difficult path of conscience in "Stranger in a Strange Land," an essay about faith, military culture, and accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

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