Several experiences over the last few days have reminded me of some terrible injustices, both past and present. Last week, Carolina and I visited the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home, and were reminded to what degree the prosperity of the United States came at the expense of the Native Americans and African slaves.
Yesterday I was reading an article about the internment camps here in the United States during World War II. I wasn’t aware that immigration laws at that time did not allow Japanese immigrants to become citizens. Many of them, when asked to renounce their allegiance to Japan, refused to do so out of fear of losing the only citizenship available to them. And they ended up confined to camps during the war.
I recently read of the impact that harsh immigration laws are having on outreach to Hispanics here in the United States. I’ve long considered our immigration laws to be completely unjust, and I’ve wondered what the Christian response should be to such laws.
Looking back, I realize that Christians too often react too late to injustices. Now we recognize the horrors of what was done to the Native Americans. Now we decry the outrage of slavery, now we reject the racism of the past. Today we abhor the WWII internment camps, though continue to call those that created them “the greatest generation.” Kind of reminds me of Jesus’ words:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father” (Matthew 23:29–33)
At what point would we look at a current situation and say, “This isn’t right”? I hear Christians claim that we will submit to the government unless we feel that it goes against God’s law. Yet we can look at these things from the past that were clearly wrong, and the church in general did not stand up against these injustices. What would it take to get us to say “No” to wrongs committed against those without power in our society?
Or will we do content ourselves to let future generations lament our mistakes?