Saturday, January 11, 2014

The TRUE Version of Social Justice



I have to agree with John Stossel when he says he hears people speak of social justice but has no clear idea what that means. Then again, it doesn't help matters when people hear the phrase and think it's a another name for socialism as his guest points out. Since the phrase came from the Catholic Church, then Catholics hold the blame for when people misuse the word.
I like how the guest defines the phrase but for our purposes, we'll go with the definition provided by wikipedia:
"Social justice refers to the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live.While "justice" (especially corrective justice or distributive justice) classically referred to ensuring that individuals both fulfilled their duties, and received what they were "due" based on interactions with other people, "social justice" is generally used in a wider way with reference to a set of institutions which will enable people to lead a fulfilling life and be active and contributors to their community."

Outside the context of either Catholicism or a transcendent reality, this definition can be misinterpreted so many ways. For example, I've come across people who think raising the minimum wage is in line with social justice and I've seen people who support gay so-called marriage claiming it's in line with social justice.  Oddly enough, these are also the same people who think if one is against abortion, they should be against the death penalty, as if both issues are morally equivalent. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

While no official list exists for what makes up social justice, there are several key parts that so-called social justice promoters tend to overlook and therefore mislead people, either by ignorance or out of malice. Those key parts are: human dignity, solidarity, charity, subsidiarity, and distributism. If any of these parts are missing, then it is not true social justice. Let's look at them in brief, starting with the two most overlooked:


Subsidiarity is defined as "an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority."
This definition by itself must be kept in mind in order for all true social teachings to make sense, the center of the web which all the parts branch off from. If it seems hard to remember, just think of it like this:
                                                Local, Competent, and has Authority. 

Consider this thought for a moment: let's say you wanted to give money to the needy. Who would you give the money to: a charity or the government? If you answered charity, you already believe in subsidiarity and not even know it. 
Also, consider the "competency" part for a moment. Often, "social justice" groups are in favor of issues that run contrary to the teachings' true meaning. For example, they may say they're Catholic but say abortion should be okay if the woman is following her conscience. (As one can see, humility is not in most social justice group's vocabulary.)


Solidarity is defined as "unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards." Here again, it is up to local bodies to determine what is best for the surrounding area.

                                                 Human dignity

Let's get one thing straight about the concept of human dignity: although it does mean promoting people's rights, it also means viewing each person as having inherent value as well as meaning personal responsibility (because this is a moral issue, and in light of subsidiarity, one does not get to make up their own morality.)

                                                  The Common Good

Once again, we must be very clear on what is meant by "the common good." While there is no standard definition (mostly because what may be good for one person may not be beneficial to another) it is agreed that the common good refers to the basic needs people must meet in order to help out other people. 

Once these four are met, a true follower of social justice would then follow up with these concepts:
-Sanctity of human life and dignity of the person
-Call to family, community, and participation and the pursuit of the Common Good

-Rights and responsibilities

-Preferential Option for the poor and vulnerable

-Dignity of work

-Care for God's creation

Notice the overall pattern: at no point did I say we should call on government to do any of these actions. The only role government has in any of this is to make it easier for individuals and private groups to reach out to the less fortunate.

If any so-called social justice group tells you otherwise, they are either lying to you or they're trying to scam you.
Only atheists think bigger government is the answer, and atheists are idiots.

No comments:

Post a Comment