Social Justice

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On the flight of the ash stained dove social justice has been an issue very close to my heart. In this article I will use as a basis the social teaching of the Catholic Church and even the Church as to ask are the people in their employ or those in the employ of religious orders paid a fair and just wages are they covered by a pension fund, medical aid just to mention a few. It is fine to cry wolf but should one not look closer to home first.

 

Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate) Pope Benedict XVI, 2009 Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship U.S. Catholic Bishops, 2007 “The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good” (no. 48). “While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst” (no. 50).

All nice put here in Caritas Veritate but are those working in the Church receiving just wages equal to those in the commercial world. One can’t shout injustice to others while in your own house the abuse of injustice is occurring. What is the Church, its Orders and those employing workers in Church institutions doing to live up to its own social teaching? Again where is the voice of the Church to see that all who work in it has just wages, get a 13th cheque and not just a 50 or 60 or 70% bonus if any at all. Should the Bishops conferences not have their own social justice desk looking at church institutions, religious orders employing people that these are practicing church social teaching firs before crying wolf?

From poverty and environmental destruction, to war and economic crises, many of the big problems we face as a planet are rooted in natural resources. While monopolists instigate wars over oil, diamonds, and other precious minerals in poor countries, the real estate sector profiteers from property bubbles (land) in rich countries.

People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive  Laudato Si  Pope Francis

 The legacy of colonialism is one in which we treat natural resources merely as spoils of conquest, resources to be exploited without regard for people or the environment. Consider Africa for example. Every year, $50 billion USD in aid and $40 billion in remittances go in to the continent. That’s generous, isn’t it? However, $400 billion is sucked out in resource profits. Africa, like most low income areas of the world, is not poor -it’s being looted.

There are more empty homes in the US than homeless people. There is also a great deal of prime land in cities that remains vacant. Take New York City for example, if all of the land currently sitting idle was made available for use, it would be equivalent to adding another Manhattan to the housing market. Such a large increase in the housing supply would drastically cut housing costs and create jobs.

Urban land is the most precious natural resource of all, for it determines how well we use all other natural resources. The more space that is wasted in cities, the more people must sprawl to outlying areas, causing a slew of environmental problems. Therefore, saving the environment, and using resources efficiently means using land efficiently, first and foremost.

The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mind-set of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? Laudato Si

The cruelty of the  capitalist system and the landowners are they use their corrupt power to work men to death and manipulate them to work for slave wages . A prime example of how the aggressive capitalists take advantage of men is their method of getting ridiculously cheap labour by sending out many more handbills than necessary so that more people come. That way, the migrant workers fight over work, offering lower and lower wages. Here I am trying to portray capitalism as a disgusting system, leaving entire families with nothing more than a couple of dollars a day to live on.

A quote , a repeat again from Caritas Veritate:

While the common good embraces all, those who are weak, vulnerable, and most in need deserve preferential concern. A basic moral test for our society is how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst” (no. 50).

Even though I obviously have a distaste for capitalism, I am instead sending out the message that in order for our society to be successful, everyone in it needs to work together as a community. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to make as much money as they want, but to be aware of how their actions are affecting their fellow citizens. The community that cares is very successful, because everyone gives help when it is needed, kin or not here I think often of the Israeli Kibbutz system. People are still allowed to make as much money and do whatever they want, as long as it is not harmful to another person. All I am advocating is the need of a balance between the capitalist the socialist, the strong and the weak, the poor and the wealthy. I end with the following quote from Simone de Beauvoir.

‘”One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.” Simone de Beauvoir

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