Forgiveness? Now?

On September 11, a Presbyterian friend was visiting a Lakota community in South Dakota. Later she told about her experience in her church newsletter: “We had already learned enough of Sioux history so that, on that fateful Tuesday morning when the World Trade Center was hit, we couldn’t help but relate to the Sioux rage and frustration at broken treaties, massacred women and children, and sacred land usurped.”

My friend is too wise a Christian to suggest that the September 11 atrocity was a just punishment for America’s sins, internal and external. But her ability to combine horror at the crimes of America’s new enemies with repentance for crimes in our national history is striking. Most Americans are not ready for sustained reflection on that combination. One hopes that time for such reflection will come—time for sorting out the just from the unjust accusations against America promulgated by Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.


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