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.
A sorry is a 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 apologize he had to make restitution.
An apology no matter how sincere is not good enough to repay all the evil the white churches inflicted upon the black people, they have to make restitution. 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.
Some will object saying, "Well I never did nothing wrong to the black or Indian people". Well that is most probably true, but the institution you belong to did, and the institution must make that restitution. Whether you have ever oppressed a black person or not is irrelevant, since you as a white person has benefited indirectly from the black people's oppression.
You have reaped the benefits of the slave labor that was done by the black people. It is you who has benefited when the schools in the ghetto do not get enough funds to pay for good teachers and books and you get to compete with a less educated black person. It is you who has benefited when a black person is in jail and you do not have to compete with that person for a job. Every job that has been wrongly refused to a black person and given to a white person has benefited you indirectly.
Every time you step on the land, you have to be aware that you are stepping in land that belonged to the Indians. It was taken from the Indians by deception and brutality. You are stepping on the blood of Indians who died of starvation and bullets by the white man, who drove them into reservations to die of starvation. You are benefiting indirectly.
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 enemies (yet did not intern the German people as possible enemies; a clear sign of discrimination) so the government has an obligation to the Japanese people. The Catholic Church was the institution that killed those people and that institution has an obligation it cannot deny or brush aside with a simple apology.
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 meaning.
Some will object on the grounds that those events happened long ago. Maybe so, but the descendents of those victims still are around. The harm done to their forefathers affected the children of those people.
Some will say that I am advocating victimhood, well the reason is very simple, because there were victims! Black people did suffer and died in the slave fields, were they not victims? Unarmed Indians did die of starvation, were they not 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 the Germans can do it, then there should not be a problem for Americans 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.