Thursday, November 6, 2008

Repeating History - UPDATED

Jen F. over at Conversion Diary has some wonderful thoughts in this post-election week:

I tend to be an easygoing, optimistic person who focuses more on my little corner of the world than the macro issues of the day. I tend to want to believe the best about people, and guard against buying into hyperbolic rhetoric that makes generalizations about the activities of certain groups of people being particularly heinous -- so often, upon reasonable analysis, that type of claim pans out to be nothing more than a lame attempt to vilify people you disagree with.

So I wonder:

If were a 31-year-old woman with three little kids in a busy house in Germany 1941, would I have fully understood the evil that surrounded me? As a woman living in 2008 I can see the horror that was going on there, but at the time there were some
awfully sleek lies being told about the situation; it would have been really, really convenient to let myself be persuaded by the lies and just make the nasty little problem go away by telling myself that it wasn't really a problem at all.


Recently I was looking through some genealogy documents and noticed that a distant ancestor of mine owned a slave. My own flesh and blood, people probably not unlike me at all, participated in the horror of slavery. Can I be so sure that I would have seen the truth? Or, if I had lived alongside my ancestor, would I have included a human being on the list of possessions I owned? Even if I didn't own a slave myself, would I have shooed the distasteful subject from my mind by surrounding myself with the comfort that all my friends seemed to think it was fine and, after all, it was
perfectly legal? Evil's most powerful tool is that it always works through lies; the lure to tell yourself that something bad is not really bad at all is a powerful temptation, and one that I'm not sure I could have resisted.

Sometimes I think about this, and wonder what advice I would pass along to my own descendants to make sure this never happens again; to help future generations guard against being blinded should they find themselves in the midst of a culture where something terrible is taking place.

Go take a look and see what she has to say!

This has certainly been a historic week. The election of Barack Obama will have ripple effects throughout our society. Less than fifty years ago, President-elect Obama would not even have been able to drink from the same water fountain as me, and now he will live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I wonder. One hundred and fifty years from now, will they talk about Roe v. Wade the same way we talk about Dred Scott today? I pray it does not take that long.

Apparently I am in distinguished company by making that analogy. Rocco has the scoop on Cardinal George's address to the USCCB today:

"If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be president of the United States."

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