I saw Django Unchained last week, and there’s one moment that’s stuck with me more than a lot of the more horrific ones. It’s the moment one of the slave drivers in Django says “I’m a good guy!” as he’s gunned down.
It reminds me of a question I’ve seen posed before, although I can’t remember where or by whom.
You see, people tend to think of themselves in very positive terms. We all like to think we’re good guys, basically. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most white Americans in the 1800s believed themselves to be good people. They felt that way even if they owned slaves, of benefitted from the slave economy. Today we wonder how they could have stood by and let the whippings and sales and rapes and murders continue one more day. We struggle to justify Thomas Jefferson’s accomplishments as a president, educator, architect, and statesman because of the fact that although he recognized the wrongness of slavery he nonetheless owned slaves.
So, it makes me wonder: What do we do today that future generations will condemn us for?
Is it eating meat? Is it destroying the air? Mass incarceration?
What horrible things are we doing at this very moment that is so wrong we will seem like incomprehensible monsters to our grandchildren?