“I felt a sudden anxiety to protect him from a realization of what he had done. Remorse is not for the elderly. When it comes to them, it is not purging or uplifting, but merely degrading and wretched, like a bladder disease.”—
“When it rustled and rattled just above the ground it was the wind in the maize fields - where it sounded so much like rain that you were taken in, time after time, and even got a certain content from it, as if you were at least shown the thing you longer for acted on a stage - and not the rain.”—
“Another thing that most history books never seem to mention is that Columbus’ first words on setting foot ashore in America were : "Great heavens, look… a jaguar!" With such an introduction, how could one fail to take an interest in the continent’s subsequent history?”—
“Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears. Film gives those lost worlds a brief resurrection. Those since-fallen buildings, those long-decayed faces, they engrossed me. “We were as you are,” they said. “The present doesn’t matter.””—
“Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn’t. It simply files things away; it keeps things for you, or hides things from you. Your memory summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory, but your memory has you!”—
“I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may.
But what is your final goal, you may ask. That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of the first fleeting and passing thought.”—Vincent van Gogh
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.
“I saw the sun rise by accident.
It was a horrible sight.
Annoyed by its splendor, I sought refuge
in a moist pillow, and lay there, alone,
at the dawn of another day,
that brought me closer to another death,
pondering the vanity of my solitude,
the vanity of procrastination,
and the tiresome inevitability of waking up
again the same person.
It might still be possible to change,
but obstinately I remain the same,
hoping that others might take solace
in my consistency.
But perhaps they take no solace in it,
perhaps they too find it tedious.”—John Tottenham
“I don’t understand people
who claim that they have no regrets in life -
who insist, out of gratitude, pride or ignorance,
that they wouldn’t want to change a thing.
My life is raging river of regret, flowing
into a sea of shame. There is very little
I wouldn’t do differently if given a second chance.
I always knew I’d end up feeling this way:
It was a setup. Regret was something
I worked towards, something I felt I had to earn.
And now, naturally, I regret that too.”—John Tottenham