Friday, November 16, 2007

Justice (16) - Land

A major cause of poverty that is a result of injustice is the loss of land. In many parts of the third world, the native people have lost their land. When the colonial nations took control, they confiscated much of the land. This confiscated land then passed into the hands of new immigrants. In some cases, much of this land is now held by large foreign-owned corporations. For people living in a subsistence economy, loss of land is a serious loss, because if they cannot grow food, they often cannot survive. Often their land was their only asset, so without land their future is grim.

Confiscating land is an injustice.

Do not move your neighbor's boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess (Deut 19:14).
The situation is even worse when this practice is supported by the government of the nation.
Judah's leaders are like those
who move boundary stones.
I will pour out my wrath on them
like a flood of water (Hos 5:10).
Most land confiscation in the colonial area was conducted or encouraged by the colonising governments. The fact that these injustices occurred several generations back does not change the situation. An injustice occurred, so it must be put right. This is an issue that Christians where Christians should give a lead. We must find ways to remedy the injustices that were done during various colonial land grabs, without creating further injustices by confiscating land current owners.

In dealing with these issues, we must also take account of the fact that the current owners of the land may have acted in good faith. They may have paid the full market price for their land. They are not necessarily the ones who committed the injustice, so the problem should not be resolved by committing an injustice against them. To resolve these land issues, we will need judges with the wisdom of Solomon.

I have described an approach that seems to be working in Treaty of Waitangi.

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