One-way repentance Print
By Pascal Bruckner   
Monday, 19 July 2010
The wave of repentance that is washing over Europe and especially our main churches is salutary only if it is mutual, and other beliefs, other systems recognize their aberrations as well. Contrition cannot be reserved for the few and purity attributed, like a kind of moral income, to those who say they have been humiliated. For too many countries in Africa, the Near East, and Latin America, self-criticism is confused with the search for a convenient scapegoat that explains all their misfortunes: it is never their fault; the fault always lies elsewhere (in the West, globalization, capitalism). But this division is not exempt from racism: when tropical or overseas peoples are relieved of all responsibility for their situation, they are at the same time deprived of all freedom and plunged back into the condition of infantilism that obtained under colonialism. Every war, every crime against humanity among the damned of the Earth is supposed to be somewhat our fault and ought to lead us to confess our guilt, to pay endlessly for being a member of the bloc of wealthy nations. This culture of apologies is above all a culture of condescension. Nothing authorizes us to divide humanity into the guilty and the innocent, for innocence is the lot of children, but also that of idiots and slaves. A people that is never held accountable for its acts has lost all the qualities that make it possible to treat it as an equal. Thus we must enlarge the circle of repentance, open it to all continents, and not confine it to Northern Hemisphere countries alone. 

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