Rather than trying to revise history later, just do what’s right now

By John D. Pierce

The tendency of many is to stay entrenched in support of systems of injustice — offering “biblical” rationalizations unrecognizable by Jesus — until the larger culture forces social change. Then, much later, to either offer a long-overdue apology for being on the wrong side of history and justice — or, more likely, to revise one’s history.

During my campus ministry years, Civil Rights leader Joseph Lowery spoke at one of the Atlanta-area state universities where I served. I’ll never forget him saying: “If everyone who has told me, ‘I marched with Dr. King,’ had actually marched with Dr. King, those police dogs in Alabama would have turned and run.”

We often hear tales of how someone was “really not a part” of some effort to restrict racial or gender equality, or to demean persons based on ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation or identity. When we all know they (or we) were.

So here’s a novel idea to consider: Just do the right thing in the first place.

As the prophet of old, Amos, put it: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24 ESV)

By doing so, one avoids the need to revise, minimize or apologize in a too-late effort to get on the right side of rightness.

But there is an even important reason for being on the right side at the outset: the pain of those mistreated in the moment is far more consequential than the damage to one’s reputation for taking so long to speak up and stand up for what is right and just.

It’s good to do what’s right. It’s better to do it sooner.

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