Bend, Oregon – After reading James Martin’s, S.J. piece on the Huffington Post I got to thinking why the uproar over “Social Justice” for people who actually believe in the Gospels and try to be good Christians. Did they miss the references to the poor? If you happen to be a Muslim you already know that one of the 5 purposes for the Koran is that it is a road map for social change built on social justice, economic equity, racial harmony, human rights, and dignity. The Koran calls the Muslim community to actively enjoin that which is right, good, and just, and to struggle against that which is wrong, evil, and unjust. Sounds plausible and good to me. The Koran is over a thousand years old, the Scriptures (Hebrew and Christian) are thousands of years old and they all talk about social justice. Why then are these words communist or socialist in the political meaning that these two philosophies espouse? I can only speculate. If the prophets of old were in the business to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable maybe its the latter group that this “holy war” of words is bothering. Do we, specifically, as Americans have a duty to promote justice? I should certainly hope so. The opposite would be antithetical to our foundations. The pursuit of happiness on the backs of others is not the American way. (For that matter, Christian or Muslim)
It is to the comfortable, those to whom much is given, that much is demanded. Maybe that’s it. Well, I give to this and that charity and help out at soup kitchens and give a dollar to a homeless person. What more do I need do? I’d say, that’s a start, a good start. Don’t stop. But I think those with the ability and the status need to do a bit more. Charity is one thing, but justice is quite another. Today’s (Friday) unemployment figures push the national average up to 9.6%. This, of course does not reflect your own areas where unemployment may be way over 10%. Those are just statistics and behind those stats are flesh and blood people, Americans who, for no fault of their own find themselves out of work and desperately trying to keep their heads above water to feed their families and pay their bills. Justice asks of us to find out what are the systems and situations which perpetuate the unemployed? Is it the unbelievable profit over people that some of these companies register? Or is it Intel sending a zillion jobs overseas to enhance the bottom line. That is the justice issue. Systems. For fun, you may want to read Rerum novarum the Encyclical issued by Leo XIII, 15 May, 1891. Makes for interesting reading.
One of the folks I interviewed this week told me a story to explain the difference between charity and social justice. A man was standing by a river when he saw a body floating down. He jumped into the river and pulled the drowning man out and put him on the shore. Shortly another person was floating down the river in distress and the man jumped in and swam to save the drowning man. This happened several times more until the man on the bank went upstream to see what was happening to all these folks being dumped in the river. He wanted to know why. In a nutshell, helping the people out of the river is charity and finding out the why and wherefore they were in the river in the first place is social justice. I need to continue to pray for Beck and his minions, they are obviously too busy yelling “communist” and not busy enough reading.
and so it goes…