Restitution

Spain is offering restitution
For the sins of its past.

In the 16th century
Hundreds of thousands of Jews
Fled the Spanish Inquisition
Settling in the Americas,
Claiming foreign land
For the Crown and the Church
That had threatened
Their physical and spiritual lives.

Fast forward five hundred years,
To when an entire country
Is willing to admit
And do penance
For the atrocities perpetrated by
Their great, great, grandcestors.

American descendants
Of these Crypto-Jews
Can now apply for dual citizenship,
Restored to all the privileges
That any Spaniard enjoys.

In other news,
A few years ago,
The Catholic Pope
Denounced and apologized
For the Crusades
Admitting that those
Who have held his divinely ordained office,
Along with the Church itself
Are fallible

Afro-Americans,
Descendants of slaves
Brought to this continent
In the 1700 and 1800s,
Are seeking monetary reimbursement
For the estimated wages
Not paid to their ancestors
For services rendered.

Similarly, German Jews,
Transported,
Tortured,
And killed in Nazi concentration camps,
Some of them the children and grandchildren,
Some of them actual survivors of the brutality,
Are seeking financial restitution
For the crimes imposed upon
Their entire people.

While I applaud the willingness
Of Government and Church
To step up and say they were wrong,
While I admire the tenacity
Of modern-day people
To stay in the struggle
To vindicate those that came before,
I wonder if money and press releases
Can really make the ghosts of human-kind
Rest easy.

Brutal acts of a stronger group
Against a weaker,
Genocide,
Massacres,
Enslavement,
Have happened always,
They are happening right now.

It seems to me
That the way to put our ghosts to rest
Is to remember
And to learn.

To look to the Jews
And the Blacks,
And the Native Americans,
And the Scots,
And the Aborigines
And the Tibetans,
And the Picts
And the Rwandans,
And the Syrians,

And to say
“We will stop.”

Not “We will stop the bad guys.”
But “We will stop.”

True restitution
Is in not doing it again.

 

 

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