Member Rara Avis
With regards to my example, I ask that you take it literally and not substitute Indians and European white men, you will see what I was trying to say. If I go to a real estate broker, am shown a house and buy it and am later told that the house was being sold because the owner had been murdered, should I then feel partially guilty or responsible for his death because, in a very roundabout way, I actually benefited by his death by being able to buy a house that otherwise would not have been on the market? I don't think so...
I don't think so, either, Mike.
I'm certainly not suggesting we should assume responsibility for suffering simply because there is suffering. There are no shoulders this side of Heaven wide enough to bear THAT load. You wouldn't be responsible for the life a stranger took, any more than I would be responsible for the devastation of a hurricane named Katrina. If you treated the widow with a little extra consideration, or I contributed a few extra dollars, that would be kindness, not responsibility, humanity, not obligation.
So why the hell do the children of the perpetrators think they should be able to skate? Perhaps because they didn't commit the wrong, did not have any participation in the execution of the wrong, did not applaud the wrong?
Doesn't that just give them a lot in common with the children of the victims, Mike?
The question, I think, boils down to this: What do you inherit from your parents?
Ultimately, of course, we're talking about the intangible things, things like values, respect and admiration, a strong sense of self and family, and so much more -- but just to keep it really simple for now, let's limit our question to just the tangible and common things.
Do you withdraw all your father's money from the bank and leave his bills unpaid? Do you take the good that was your father and leave behind the bad?
I suspect it would help satisfy our American sense of justice (and I honestly do believe this is a cultural issue) if everyone in the world received a clean slate at birth, Mike. It would be equally nice if life was always fair, wouldn't it?
It clearly doesn't work that way, though, especially not if your parents or grandparents were victims. Life, we both know, isn't always fair. The son of a slave isn't born a free man with a clean slate dependent only on his own future actions. The son of a slave inherits the yoke of his father. Why should the son of the slave owner get to insist his slate be wiped clean? Does that really satisfy a sense of justice? Is that somehow more fair? Neither son has committed a wrong, neither feels they are to blame, but both I think must bear the weight of their inheritance.
The one should get a clean slate, Mike, only when both can get a clean slate. And we ain't there, yet.
I am more than willing to be held responsible for my actions and I'm conscientious enough to be able to sympathize with those who were mistreated or victimized but I'm not going to take off my shirt so they can use a whip on me.
Again with the guilt, Mike?
There's a big difference, I think, between being culpable for your father's actions and being responsible for them. You have to pay Daddy's second mortgage -- even if it means selling that shirt on your back -- but that has to be measured in terms of justice, not vengeance. You owe the debt. That doesn't mean you're guilty of incurring it. The difference may seem a subtle one, but I'm convinced it's a very real one.