There is an inevitability to life that shrinks us to our rightful size. Nations, too, are bound by this principle.
Today we enter this new year as a nation, grappling with a fundamental flaw in our character: Nothing crystallizes our fake love of liberty like our actual practice of it. Witness our 80-billion dollar prison industry, more than the next ten countries combined. Here, punishment has become gratuitous – meted out on a par with some of the most despotic regimes on Earth. America proclaims “Justice for all” with its mouth, while wreaking it with its hands.
We have lost sight of what justice is, so long have we gotten away with injustice. A supposed-Christian society that championed slavery for 250 years – that sought the eradication of its own native populations; that replaced slavery with Jim Crow, and now with mass incarcerations; that de-emphasizes the humanity of its captive population – cannot be a fair arbiter of justice at home, or abroad. That nation is awash in its own crimes. And when it shows no acknowledgement of those crimes – no remorse – as Shakespeare would say, “What honey is expected?’
This nation will not repent. On the contrary, with the largest prison system on Earth, America seems emboldened, so much so that it adds families of prisoners to it multitude of minions, as though they, too, are captives; which, of course, they are. With the cruel touch, America wreaks havoc upon elderly parents and babies, alike. Who will check this draconian giant?
Do you believe the enslaver will be enslaved? That he who bombs shall be bombed? Americans, individually and collectively, must begin to ask these questions – to take responsibility for this nation’s bad acts and, by consequence, brace for the moment when this nation is laid on the rack.
We profess to believe in the Bible, but appear to rarely believe that it actually applies to us. “Eye for an eye,” though archaic, makes sense to us as long was it remains relegated to a time capsule – where, if it leaks, it does so only where extremist Islamic cultures persist.
Perhaps because we live in the moment, we feel insulated from our crimes – as though by the time time gets around to us, we will have long been gone. Certainly, generations can pass before retribution calls, but it pays its calls, nonetheless, and generations are left wondering, “What did we do to deserve this?” (see 9/11). Soon, a victim’s culture is spawned wherein no one living accepts responsibility for crimes committed in their names, and often on their behalf.
Amid the onslaught on one shooting after another – out of the shadow of the disintegrating American family – we, as a nation, look into the mirror and wonder, “What is to become of us?” Suffice it to say, nothing good will come of a nation in denial, especially when it denies past inequities, the likes of which it continues to commit to this day. What shall become of us? We shall reap what we sow. There will be harvests aplenty.
These horrific school shootings are not committed in a vacuum. From this nation’s violent beginnings, we have killed Native American children in village schools from Maine to Florida, from the Carolinas to California. We have continued these killings in the Philippines and Vietnam and Iraq.
What about the nine Afghan boys killed while gathering firewood for their mothers? They were attending a school – one that modeled boyhood responsibility. Then, in an instant, they were obliterated by a US drone strike. Do we think that crime will go unpunished? President Obama said, “Oops.” Do we think that is contrition enough for time?
A wise man once said, “Justice is balance.” Well, America has lost its balance. Yet, it continues to wreak its twisted justice. The result fills families with despair.
This despair will not go unremembered by the children. They will be the next arbiters of justice – not just America’s children, but Afghanistan’s children, and Zimbabwe’s children, and children the world over. They are time’s children. Inevitably, America, it will be time.