May 29, 2002
volume 13, no. 99

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You cannot escape Reparation

    "Guilt needs reparation. There is a great difference between sorrow for the wrong we did and making reparation for it... Suppose every time we did wrong we were told to drive a nail in a board; and every time we were forgive we were told to pull a nail out. The board would be full of holes. These holes are the record of how our wrong deeds disturb the order of justice. Many think that all they have to do when they do wrong individually or socially is merely to ask to be forgiven. They must also make reparation for the wrong. The equilibrium and the balance of justice have been disturbed, and that balance must be restored by penance.

    Suppose you had the moral authority to command and bind me in conscience. Presently I am on neutral ground, just like the neutral in the old gearshift. You tell me to take three steps to the right. But, being very 'self-expressive', I take three to the left. When I find myself in a place which does not give me happiness, I say to you, 'I am sorry, will you forgive me?'

    You will forgive me; but look where I am. Before I can begin doing good. I have to get back in neutral again. If I put my foot down three times in self-affirmation or in an unlawful pleasure, I have to put my foot down three times in reparation; it is rather humiliating, but I put my little tail behind my legs and get back to neutral. Then I can begin to move to the right and the thing that gives me peace of soul.

    A nation may do wrong; if so, it must make up for it by some kind of penance and atonement and reparation. We can do wrong as a nation; we are not all innocent lambs. While it may be true that other nations have done far greater wrong, the way to peace is not to point out their villainy. Rather it is humbly to admit our failures and make expiation for them. The world is the way it is because you are the way you are and I am the way I am.

    It is not sufficient that we as individuals make up for our own individual failings. We are also citizens of a great republic, and we have to make the expiation as a republic. This will involve some prayers and penances on our part. It will also mean seeing that a long as human groups do not make sacrifices for peace, they will continue to settle their difficulties by war. War to egotists who deny they ever do wrong seems a smaller calamity than the renunciation of their egotism and selfishness."

May 29, 2002
volume 13, no. 99
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