SORRY IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH

By George Card

 

Today in society there are some groups apologizing for their past mistakes. White churches have apologized to black people, for they're past behavior. The Japanese have received an apology for their internment, and even the Catholic Church has apologized for the inquisition.

 

Well this is fine and dandy, except that it is not good enough. A simple “sorry” will not do for all the evils of slavery, an apology won't set right the years of imprisonment of the Japanese people, a simple mea culpa, won't make up for the catholic church killing millions of “heretics” and “witches”. One word can not make up for those evil actions.

 

Don’t get me wrong, a sorry acknowledges that a wrong was done and that is a good start, but it is not enough. The bible clearly said that if a thief got caught he had to return 7 times what he stole. It wasn't just enough for him to feel guilty and apologize, he also had to make restitution for his wrong doing.

 

An apology no matter how sincere is not good enough to repay all the evil that some white churches inflicted upon the black people (not all white churches were guilty); they have to make meaningful restitution. Along with their apology they have to make strong credible financial contributions to the betterment of the black people. A real payment for all the hurt and suffering caused by their institution teaching and actions.

 

Some will object saying, "Well I never did nothing wrong to the black, Indian or any other race of people". Well that is most probably true, you are not personally guilty of past wrongs, you were not there. I am also sure that most people of today would not engage in such bad behavior, with a few bad exceptions.

 

Whether you have ever oppressed a person of race or not is irrelevant, since you as a member of society have benefited indirectly from that oppression resulting from that past societal behavior. The society that you belong to; is the one that must make that apology and restitution thru its representative government. It was the society that you live in, which oppressed and exploited other races of people, it is that society which must not only make an apology but also a meaningful financial gesture as restitution.

 

If you are not a minority, you still reaped the benefits of the labor that was done by those exploited people. Even now, it is you who benefits when the schools in the ghetto don’t get enough funds for good teachers and books so you get to compete with a less educated person. You benefit when a minority is in jail because he or she can’t afford a lawyer and you do not have to compete with that person for a job. Another way you have benefited is when a qualified minority is not given a job, due to discrimination and given to a less qualified non-minority, yes it does happens.

 

Every time you step on the land, you have to be aware that you are stepping in land that belonged to the Native Americans (Indians). It was taken from them by deception and brutality. You are stepping on the blood of Indians who died by the bullets of their oppressors, who drove them into reservations to die of sickness and starvation. The natives made treaties and deals with the government, which the government then broke (with the notable exception of the William Penn treaty of 1661).

 

If you live in the southwest of America, then you have to realize that every step you take is done in land that used to belong to Mexicans. It was taken by force of arms. The Mexican people were wronged and no repayment for that wrong has ever been done.

 

The government interned the Japanese people as possible spy enemies (yet did not intern the German people as possible spy enemies; a clear sign of discrimination) so the government has an obligation to the Japanese people.

 

The Catholic Church was the institution that killed millions of people, whom they called heretics or witches and then took their property. That institution has an obligation it cannot deny or brush aside with a simple apology. The Catholic Church is the richest church in the world and a great part of those riches came by stealing it from others.

 

There can not be true reconciliation between former enemies, until the restitution has been done. This might seem like a big step and it is but it has to be done if the apology is to be sincere. Otherwise the apology is just a bunch of empty words devoid of any real or significant meaning.

 

Some will object on the grounds that those events happened long ago. Yes it is true, but the descendents of those victims still are around. The harm done to their forefathers still affected the children of those people.

 

Some will say that I am advocating victimhood; well the reason is very simple, it is because they were victims! Black slaves did suffer and died in the fields, were they not victims? Unarmed Indians did die of starvation, were they not victims? Other minority groups suffered other wrongs by society, yes they too were victims. "Heretics" did die at the hands of the inquisition, were they not victims?

 

Germany is an example of real repentance; the government not only apologized to the victims of the Holocaust but also made financial restitution to them. If Germany can do it, then there should not be a problem for America to do likewise. I am not sure what the Catholic Church could do to make a meaningful gesture for all the people the inquisition murdered.

 

I am sorry to tell the institutions and the government, but sorry is not good enough. And please do not give me that the government will then have to pay for ever, for that is not true. A onetime meaningful financial contribution will show the sincerity of the apology.