For clarification, according to Glen Harold Stassen and David P Gushee, in Kingdom Ethics (p151), the Hebrew word for "righteousness" means "delivering justice."
--the kind of justice that delivers the downtrodden from domination and brings the outcasts into community.So, what I mean by righteousness is that we live in a society where everybody is treated equally in receiving justice, and even wrongdoers are restored back into a place of good-standing with the community. You may be familiar with principles of restorative justice, which includes restitution to victims of crimes, whether the "criminal" is an individual, a group, or a state.
The implications for this should be fairly obvious in terms of race. There's no way you can look throughout American history, from the moment some person realized that African indentured servants couldn't mix in with the crowd and escape, to the present, and claim that African Americans have received or are receiving justice.
But I don't just mean justice and righteousness in that a person who's robbed gets all his/her stuff back, or in that when a large company like Exxon destroys entire communities, that company pays the full cost to restore the communities. So, yes, I mean that even large corporations can't buy their way out of trouble. The way I'm using it, big financial executives would not receive bonuses; we'd make sure people stayed in their homes; credit would continue to flow; the banks would still have large amounts of debt to pay; and, we put in place regulations that would prevent these things from happening again. I believe you get the gist of that. That's justice, right?
Ok. So what do I mean when I say righteousness? Think of it first on an individual level, right? A righteous person who sees someone in need tries to meet that need, regardless of how the needy got there. See, in American capitalism, for the most part, everyone is supposed to sink or swim on their own. We leave everything to the "invisible hand" of the free-market. So, we have an entire group of people we call the "working poor" because even though they're good people and they're working as hard as they can, their work isn't valued enough such that they get paid a living wage. So, our economic system may allow for a waitress to work as hard as she can and be as nice and kind to all her customers as she can but still not make a decent income. So, the impetus (I hope I'm using the word properly.) is on the customer, and a righteous customer will give her a sizable tip. Right?
Okay. When I say righteousness, I include entire groups of people, whether it's one ethnic group to another, or a government to it's constituents, or one nation to another. I mean that, for example, the US government would do for the waitress what we intend for the customer to do. That is righteousness.
So, for me, justice and righteousness includes holding wrongdoers accountable, no matter how big or small. Obviously, they include not exploiting the poor. But I also mean the extent to which the government, in the case of the US, guarantees everyone healthcare, decent housing and food, and a competitive education. There are a number of ways to ensure this, from making the minimum wage always a living wage to single-payer health care. Again, I hope I don't have to spoon feed you what this means for race. But I will if necessary. The point is that we as a country don't just accept that, "There'll always be some unemployment," and hope we're not the ones unemployed. It's not that we want everyone at all times to have a job or career or business. It's that we don't leave citizen to the whims of the free-market.
Because, at the end of the day, the "government" is made up of people we elect to represent us, who're all presumably "good" people. So the "government" should be doing what we, a group of "good" people 300million strong, would do if we each had the power. Here's the dirty little secret: collectively, we each do have the power in the form of our representative democracy. (This is the reason why most black people hold all white people accountable for racial discrimination. We know that if even just a bare majority of white Americans really wanted to ensure equality for everyone and was really "sorry" for what happened in the past, the situation in regards to race would be drastically different.)
So, I don't just ask you to look at the "man in the mirror" as an individual. I ask that Americans look ourselves in the mirror as a nation. What kind of Supreme Court do we really want? I ask that the West look at itself in the mirror. Are you really carrying out foreign aid as though you're dealing with people who are your equal? I ask the all leaders of governments and heads of states, regardless of the legitimacy or perceived lack thereof of your position, look yourselves in the mirror. Do you really want your people to prosper, or just yourself and some friends? Whatever your answer is, for heaven's sake, be honest!
Cause if you're a white person, or a man, or anyone, who want to "conserve" the status quo, you're racist. If you really don't wanna be racist, we can talk later about how to make the US a nation of equality and not white supremacy. But the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. Take a look at the "man in the mirror, make that change."
And this is my response to just about every recent news development.