Saturday, November 14, 2009

America: The 'Good' and 'Just' Society

A couple of weeks ago I was summoned to meet with three representatives from a foundation that provides scholarships to Master of Divinity students committed to congregational ministry. The foundation’s president spoke about how the United States has historically been a “good” and “just” country, and that the enterprise of the foundation was about sustaining America’s standing as a good and just society. I would not have thought much about his comment a few months ago, but now with a greater sensitivity toward racial issues in America, I was quite disturbed by his statement. I thought to myself, Was is ‘good’ and ‘just’ when European immigrants stole land from the native Americans? Was the enslavement of Africans brought to America to work the cotton fields ‘good’ and ‘just’? Was it ‘good’ and ‘just’ for the African Americans who fought for this country to be refused equal housing opportunities? Was it ‘good’ and ‘just’ that women for so long were denied the right to vote? In all fairness, the foundation’s president was partially right in saying that America is “good” and “just”--for him and people like him with white skin.


Bob said...

First of all, good and just surely doesn't mean perfect. Historically speaking, all cultures have employed forms of slavery including native Americans and of course Africans themselves. Thanks to very detailed record keeping of slave traders at the height of this dismal practice, surprisingly, a majority of slaves didn't even land in America at all. Like it or not, "good and "just" Americans, lead by the conscience of the church, did over turn the practice of slavery. A conscientious America lead the fight against Communism, Fascism, Nazism and Socialism. We can choose to dwell on the sins of our fathers or we can choose to move forward.

JET said...

@bob - moving forward in a Christian sense always means truth telling and repentance. The fiction that America is good and just or that it is a historically christian nation for that matter, is used as a justification of "our way of doing things," - which I think can be more compelling construed in a negative light than a positive. But that isn't threatening to me in the slightest because my evaluation of the united states has no bearing whatsoever upon my evaluation of the Church. Do not be deceived, our coins do not tell the truth, America does not trust in God.