- Politics and Social Issues»
Social Service, Social Justice
Service and Justice
- Catholic Worker Movement
Description of and links to principal websites about the Catholic Worker Movement.
- Food Not Bombs
Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment.
- Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace
Sojourners is a progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture.
Can't Have One Without The Other--Or Can You
Soon after I realized that George W. Bush had intended to use 9-11 to advance a new American Empire, I stumbled on a 'Peace and Justice' mailing list for Central PA. Like any on-line list, it gets spam. A recent one was for a "savings program" that would allow people to save on groceries, etc. In these economic times, such a program might attract some clicks.
One of the regular posters responded to the message by urging the poster to work for economic equality. This got two ideas to rattle out of my brain.
The first is a divide I've observed between social service groups that provide food, etc to the poor and homeless, and social justice groups that work to try an deal with the structural factors that lead to inequality. The way I see it, social justice groups argue that providing the services is treating the symptoms, but ignoring the disease. Social service groups counter that by saying that social justice groups want to operate while the patient is bleeding to death!
Perhaps the two groups need to take a more symbiotic model. Social service groups stabilize the situation and social justice groups work to rectify it.
But then my second question arose. Why are there so few groups that do both; I listed a few in the links and the now-defunct ACORN did a bit of both, but those seem to be exceptions.
A lot of it may have to with the reliance many social service groups rely heavily on donations, donations that come from corporations. To really try and work for economic justice by standing against corporate power would mean many social service groups would have to fight the same entities that keep them in business. Government support may also be a bit dependent on how well a group behaves.
A good amount of social service organizations are affiliated with religions, especially evangelical flavors of Christianity. Their lack of emphasis on social justice is especially paradoxical; Christ spoke often against the wealthy and powerful, and of treating the poor with respect and dignity. But even the Church needs people to bankroll it, and far too many may try to give themselves to both God and money.
A more sinister reason behind all this may be that a true commitment to social justice would put many social service groups out of business. What use would there be for a food pantry if folks were able to afford food?