Keeping Our Eyes on the Evangel

What if, in the beginning, President George Bush had stood next to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in front of the whole world, and pledged unequivocal U.S. support for the restoration of democracy in Haiti? What if comprehensive international economic

and diplomatic sanctions had been called for and rigorously enforced against the Haitian military dictators by both the Bush and the Clinton administrations? What if those sanctions were part of a clear and consistent policy?

What if President Aristide, as Haiti’s democratic and spiritual leader, had called for massive civil resistance in Haiti, and even risked his own life again in going back to lead it? And what if American religious leaders had volunteered to go with him in a peace army, offering a different kind of "invasion"? Would we be in a different place today?

What if Bill and Hillary Clinton had turned the American political process into a massive town meeting on the central issues of health care and crime? What if the core values and fundamental moral choices had been focused so clearly that ordinary Americans understood what was really at stake and could have decided themselves in what direction they wanted the country to go? And what if American religious leaders had turned their pulpits into prophetic instruments that cut through the false rhetoric, partisan hypocrisy, and moneyed interests to plead the cause of justice in these policy debates? Would we be in a different place today?

What if the conservative members of the NAACP’s board who wanted to undermine the agenda of change offered by Ben Chavis had nothing with which to go after him? What if the leaders of progressive movements were as well known for their personal prudence, humility, and integrity as they are for their bold social and political leadership? And what if the religious community were to raise all those issues as if they were of equal importance? Would we be in a different place today?

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Sojourners Magazine November 1994
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