Repentance
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Repentance

BY MARK Y.A. DAVIES

We can never make right what has been done to our indigenous siblings on this land, but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that was done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for our indigenous neighbors. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the genocide upon which this nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice among all members of the human family on this stolen land.

We can never make right what has been done to our siblings from Africa who were separated from their families, forced from their homelands, shipped in shackles to this continent, and forced to work in slavery subject to the constant threat and reality of rape, torture, and execution; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for our African American neighbors. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we fully recognize and reject the human slavery and human misery upon which our nation was built and that continues to be expressed in the systemic racism of our culture today and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice among all members of the human family within this deeply racist land.

We can never make right what has been done to our sisters on this land who for much of the history of this country were treated more like the property of men than as full and whole human beings, who did not even have the right to vote until 1920, and who still experience economic, social, and political inequality; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all women. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the misogyny upon which this nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all women within this deeply sexist land.

We can never make right was done to immigrants on this land who have been exploited for economic gain, who often work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions without basic benefits and under the constant threat of deportation; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all persons who are immigrants. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the xenophobia upon which the nation was built and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all immigrants in this deeply xenophobic land.

We can never make right has been done to persons who are LGBTQ+ on this land, who for most of its existence had to hide their sexual orientation or gender orientation from the community around them, who have been ostracized and bullied, and many of whom suffer from depression because of rejection by family, friends, and churches; but we can never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all people no matter what their sexual or gender orientation might be. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject the way persons who are LGBTQ+ have been treated and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice for all in this deeply heterosexist and cisgender biased land.

We can never make right the great violence that has been done to so many people on this land. We are violent nation whose very birth came through violent revolution. We have committed the violence of genocide, the violence of slavery, the violence of a civil war and wars abroad, high rates of gun violence, and ongoing systemic violence against persons of color. We can never make it right for all who have suffered from this violence, but we will never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work to establish non-violent human community on this land. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject our over-reliance on violence and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice in this deeply violent land.

We can never make right the ecological devastation that has been done to this land, the destruction of once great forests, the decimation of the great Bison, the extinction of species, the pollution of air and waterways, and now what is becoming catastrophic climate change; but we will never make it better unless we look straight into the eyes of the great evil that has been done, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for some meaningful justice for all life on this land. Maybe there could be some real greatness or at least some basic goodness in our future if we finally recognize and reject our exploitation of our ecological community and do all that can possibly be done to cultivate the bonds of love, respect, peace, and justice with all life in this deeply human centered land.

If we look straight into the eyes of the evil of our past and present, denounce it for the evil that it is, and work for meaningful justice for our human and ecological communities, we will not allow ourselves to continue to go down the path of Muslim bans, children being separated from their parents at our borders, denial of the climate crisis, and isolating ourselves from our neighbors around the world. If we do this hard work together, we will repent from what we have been and turn towards what need to become for the world today – a land of responsible freedom and justice for all.

This would be a land that we could all truly celebrate together as one.

Mark Y.A. Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. Click herefor more of his essays.

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July 5, 2018

About Author

Arnold Hamilton

ahamilton Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.


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