I guess it was inevitable that the House’s formal apology for slavery and institutionalized segregation would bring out calls once again for reparations. It seems that many black leaders don’t believe reconciliation is possible without some price being paid by the oppressors. To them, an apology is hollow – I guess it’s gotta hurt for them to believe they really mean it.
My humble opinion is that reparations won’t solve anything and will further exacerbate racial tensions. Consider all the tough questions reparations would raise:
- How does one assign a monetary value to the impact of slavery and institutionalized discrimination on a people?
- How long should reparations be paid?
- Should people like Oprah and Tiger Woods receive a reparations check when they’re wealthier than most white people?
- What about the white people who reject racism and have never practiced it but still have to pay for it?
- In order to help pay for reparations, should the U.S. bill those African nations whose tribes captured and sold their enemies to slave traders?
- How would we use our reparations checks? Would we use them to invest in our own businesses, home ownership or acquisition of stock to create wealth for ourselves and our families, or would we just spend the money and be no better off than before except we have more “stuff”?
- Would reparations bring reconciliation or resentment?
We need to take a global view and consider the consequences of what we’re asking. I for one am not willing to burn down the house I live in just to demonstrate my moral superiority over another. Humans have wronged one another since the dawn of time and I’ve never seen money right ancient wrongs or heal the wounds people carry in their hearts.
As a committed Christian, the Bible is my source for the answer to this difficult question. Reconciliation can only be achieved by forgiveness. We are to forgive even if those who have wronged us do not consider themselves in need of forgiveness. If those who have wronged us come to us in humility and repent, we are to show them the same grace that Christ showed us by forgiving us even while we were sinners.
Practically speaking, forgiveness is the only path forward. Forgiveness wipes the slate clean and opens the door to dialogue and increased trust. Our common goal ought to be working as one to help America realize the ideals that make her a beacon to the rest of the world, not promoting retribution through reparations. I accept the House’s apology and hope the Senate will follow suit and ask the President to sign it as a formal proclamation of our government’s commitment to racial healing going forward. In God’s economy, humility and repentance are priceless.