The past two Friday blogposts have consisted of reviews and reactions to two conservative discussions on Social Justice. The conservative perspectives discussed are ones that leave the government out and describes Social Justice purely in terms of a virtue that is to be practiced by voluntary associations. This blogpost is being written to bring closure to those reviews while noting that this blog will address the subject later on again.
What the two conservative sources on Social Justice and my own responses have in common is that the participants, for the most part, belong to groups that have not experienced social injustices. The lone exception to this rule has been Aimee Byrd. But what was interesting about Byrd is that she did not mention any social injustices experienced by women.
In fact, outside of abortion, no other mention of victims was mentioned except to say, from David's prayer of confession in Psalm 51, that the Lord is said to be the only victim when social injustice occurs.
Thus, in terms of expertise on the subject of Social Justice, it was sorely lacking by all involved including Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt, Aimee Byrd, Michael Novak, and myself. That is because we were not including any experiences when talking about Social Justice, we were speaking ideologically only. And that is the weakness of us religiously conservative Christians. We use our theology (a.k.a., spiritual ideology) to completely define the world while defying people to contradict our definitions with their experiences. And since we claim that our definitions of the world come from God, you can imagine the regard, or lack thereof, we have for the experiences of others when they push against our definitions.
Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef could easily point out the weakness of these past discussions on Social Justice by how he contrasts knowing about vs understanding. Max-Neef says that to have a more integrated view of a subject, we need to experience things. For example, Max-Neef says that poverty is like love in that we can study all we want about either subject and still not understand either one. But once we experience being in love or living in poverty, we can understand these states in an integrated sense. This doesn't mean that our studies and ideologies are worthless, they can provide some boundaries and structures in which to place our experiences. But study alone does not afford us an intimate understanding of what it means to be in love or be poor.
We should look at Social Justice in the same way. Sure we can learn and know about Social Justice by reading and reflecting on it, but that can only result in us knowing some things about Social Justice. For us to understand Social Justice, we need to have experienced social injustices and possibly some kind of partial restoration and relief from those social injustices. In absence of that, we can improve on what we know about Social Justice by studying the experiences of those whose lives have been impacted by social injustice and possibly relieved of those injustices by the establishment of some degree of Social Justice.
Do you want to have a deeper knowledge of Social Justice? Then read or talk to those who have real life experiences with social injustice and tried to work against it. Most certainly, we can learn much more about Social Justice by read people like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Bobby Seale, or organizations like OTPOR, or from those who belong to the LGBT community. Of course there are many other sources to read from that would help us better know how social injustices are experienced and what it is like to resist them. Such reading will help improve our knowledge, but until we experience social injustices, we have little chance in truly understanding their impact on people's lives. And the less we understand about the impact that social injustices have on people's lives, the less we understand Social Justice.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5