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The Sins of Our Fathers 04/24/2009

President Ortega and President Obama

President Obama greets Nicaragua's President Ortega.


Our president has been apologizing to the world for what he views as the sins of America throughout history. "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon," Obama told the crowd in the Czech Republic, "the United States has a moral responsibility to act" to eliminate them. In France, he said that America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe. And at The Summit of the Americas, where the anti-American presidents of Latin America voiced their anger loudly, Obama paid his contrition by saying, in part, "Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."

Yet an interesting thing happened beyond the teleprompter speeches. In an off-the-cuff remark, President Obama uncovered a gem of wisdom. He stumbled upon a truth that, if fully acknowledged and implemented throughout the world, would heal relationships between and within nations far more than any blame, hand-wringing or self-deprecation.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega spent an hour ranting against "war policies" of the 1850s that united all of Latin America to "defeat the expansionist policy of the United States." He defended Fidel Castro and blasted America for the failed Bay of Pigs assault under John F. Kennedy, although he did say that he couldn't hold Obama fully accountable for that. At the end, President Obama sought to diffuse the revolutionary fervor by saying:

"To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. We've all heard these arguments before."

Technically, the Bay of Pigs occurred four months before Obama was born, but his meaning was dead right. We will never survive as a people if we continue to prosecute others for the sins of their fathers.

I know that our president understands this, so it baffles me when he plays up these past sins, whether real or simply perceived. I wish he would stick to the message he delivered to President Ortega. One would imagine that President Obama understands this better than anyone, given that his racially-mixed ancestry includes both slaves and slave owners. If the guilt of sins passed down from generation to generation, he would be both a victim and the perpetrator of a crime.

As a Christian, not only am I instructed to forgive others as God has forgiven me, but I am told to love my enemies. Coming from a broken home, my family tree is missing several branches, but I am told that I have a considerable amount of Native American blood. Should the Native part of me resent the white part of me? If so, who do I blame and how do I get revenge? Focusing on such things gets me nowhere; it only creates a victim mentality, which is one of the greatest hindrances to happiness.

Daniel Ortega should not blame Barack Obama for the strained relations between the United States and Cuba. Likewise, President Obama should not blame me for segregation or slavery. Even the laid-off auto worker in Detroit would be best served by focusing on his or her future instead of simmering over the failed leadership in the auto industry or corrupt policies in Washington.

"Bitterness is the poison we swallow to hurt someone else," somebody once said. And although it can be very difficult to fight the anger and resentment when we are directly harmed, it makes no sense to hold on to resentment from generations past.

America, and all of us as human beings, have present practices and even sins for which we should repent right now. If, however, we really want progress between individuals and between nations, we must spend more time on forgiveness and cooperation, instead of blame and resentment. If we do not accept this truth and demonstrate it in our lives, we will never find peace and may even be condemned to repeat the sins of our fathers.

Author: James Robison

Editor: Randy Robison

Word Count: 709

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.