Social Justice

My take:
Social Justice is about preserving the Dignity of Man. That means providing man with food, clothing, shelter and helping man to provide these elements for himself. If man is not taught and expected to provide for himself, he is merely a slave to the provider(master), which is Social Justice in reverse.
We must understand that there are many who select to drop out of society and desire to remain addicted to drugs, alcohol and have no desire to work/produce. To provide a meal to these folks is charitable, but to supply them with cash is merely enables slavery, rather than dignity.

I agree.

I have to admit that I get very suspicious when I hear the label Social Justice get used these days in the Church. Caring for our neighbour comes as a natural extension of our love for God. God commanded us to love Him first and then love our neighbour as an extension (in that order). Put simply, if we want to care for our neighbour better, then the solution is to focus on loving God more. We have to remember that our ability to help others does not come from ourselves, it comes from God (and God has a much better plan for helping the poor then we do). It’s only when we reach such a degree of holiness that we are willing to be martyred for the faith, that our deeds truly start to become representative of God’s will and the benefits derived from our actions start to far surpass anything that we could do according to our own intellect or means (just look at Mother Teresa).

The problem that I find with many aspects of social justice is that they tend to put the focus on the man-made solutions to human inequities which ultimately short circuits our relationship with God. This has the effect of elevating man and eventually contributing to the secularization of the Church.

This is why I think that certain social justice initiatives tend to struggle so much with avoiding the contraception and abortion mentality… it’s a man-made solution to think in terms of helping the poor with contraception and abortion (God knows much better then we do and if we were truly focused on doing God’s will then these solutions would never even enter our minds).

Part of me sees the distinction you’re trying to make, another part of me keeps coming back to Matthew 25:40:

"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

I think we should be more concerned about why they don’t want to work/produce than concerned about the symptom.

Excellent application of that saying from Matthew 25:40.

Uh huh - and who, pray tell, is going to be the judge of exactly who has ‘selected to drop out’ and who is simply so damaged by their addiction - or at least by the stigma branded upon them by their past - that they are unsuccessful in spite of making every effort to ‘drop back in’?

How can we really begin to judge such a thing? And how can we know that we are correct in our judgements?

I doubt it, because they would be dead.

Excellent post.

Do not judge lest ye be judged.


Hi Marlene,

I fully agree that social justice is about preserving the dignity of mankind. As far as how this is accomplished, and what it means exactly, I think there is and likely will be disagreement for the remainder of my lifetime at least. I don’t think that in the USA we as a society are even close to agreement as a whole with respect to what it means and how it should be achieved, let alone taking into account the whole world. Personally, I don’t think that a random human born on US soil is any more important than any other human born in any other country. I also realize that the US population is not able to take care of the whole world.

I think that people who, as you say, “select to drop out of society and desire to remain addicted to drugs, etc” is a complex issue and not as cut and dry as ‘selecting’ to remain addicted to drugs…’. IMO people who are addicted to drugs (in contrast to those who may use drugs on occasion) do so as a means of self-medicating and typically have histories of trauma in childhood, or trauma in adulthood, and turn to drugs in an effort to numb their pain. For me a primary thing to look at when considering drug use is the way that the US gov’t currently deals with drugs as a policy. The current policy is prohibition. It is typically referred to as the drug war. IMO it should be clear to any thinking, open minded adult that the drug war is a failure as a policy as drug addiction has remained constant since at least 1920, despite the various steps taken by the gov’t using the police, courts, and criminal justice system to address the drug problem in this country. It has cost over 2 TRILLION dollars since the war on drugs has started. Drugs are at least as easy to get as they were prior to when the drug war started. The cost of drugs has also declined since the start of the drug war, when just about every other product offered for sale in the USA has went up considerably in price since 1970 (food, housing, transportation, clothing, etc…).

IMO that policy should be changed so that we, as a society, can actually address the countries drug problem in a way that will actually have a positive effect- reducing drug addiction, and in particular keeping drugs out of the hands of children. At present, because drugs are illegal, they are easier for minors to obtain than alcohol. This is because drug dealers do not discriminate when it comes to who they employ and who they sell to when it come to age (mostly, not entirely). IMO most adults will not purchase alcohol for minors, in particular minors below the age of 18. But when it comes to drugs, minors can more easily obtain them than alcohol.

Assuming I am correct in that drug addicts use and become addicted to drugs the vast majority of the time because they have some sort of trauma history and it is the exception rather than the rule that someone becomes addicted to hard drugs if they are raised in a healthy enviornment as children and are not subjected to trauma (such a rape, being a soldier in wartime, etc) then I think as a society we need to shift resources away from the criminal justice system when it comes to drugs and move those resources towards the medical system, therapists, etc. We spend a forture encarcerating drug users and it is not effective in getting them to be non addicted. Additionally quite a few people get murdered because drugs are illegal (a perfect example to look at is alcohol prohibtion a la Al Capone). When alcohol prohibtion stopped the murders of suppliers and police, as well as police corruption around alcohol sales, etc stopped. Right now with drugs all of that is active and it costs us a fortune financially, gets a lot of people killed, and breaks up a lot of families due to addicts going to prison.

While I think it’s important to keep our children safe, it is clear that the war on drugs does not keep drugs out of their hands, and in fact makes it easier for them to obtain. And while children being raised in homes of addicts is a problem, so is it a problem that children are raised in homes of alcoholics.

To be continued in next post…

I also completely agree with your statement “If man is not taught and expected to provide for himself, he is merely a slave to the provider(master), which is Social Justice in reverse.” And, unfortunately, IMO the social programs, entitlement programs the us gov’t offers to poor poeple encourage and reinforce ‘social justice in reverse’ based on the way you describe it. IMO programs where people are provided services from the government (housing, food, money or other services) should not be ‘entitlement’ programs, this encourages people to become slaves based on the way you describe as they are taught that gov’t will provide for them, and in turn become addicted to gov’t providing for them and develop additudes of entitlement to the goods and services and money they receive. IMO goods, services, money provided should be tied to the individuals being required to do volunteer work, pursuing an education, helping others that are also receiving goods and services from the government. There are obviously different degree’s of need and capability when looked at on an individual level and there can not be a one size fits all solution. But moving in that direction and away from ‘entitlement’ without the person having to do anything in return (I do think it’s reasonable for people to receive assistance with food, etc on a short term basis if they previously have been productive tax paying citizens who have fallen on bad times and it will be temorary assistance they are receving and not for years and years.

By making such changes people will learn to better provide for themselves, will learn they are expected to provide for themselves (in some cases, such as the disabled they may never be able to fully provide for themselves but I still believe that in almost all cases there still should be requirements that the people work to be more self sufficient and/or volunteer to help others or similar) and this approach will have more citizens working and also reduce the costs of providing food, shelter, etc as a society as it will be promoting self sufficiency and not entitlement to a free ride on the backs of others which causes conflict with citizens and promotes people loosing the skills they have and becoming more and more dependent (eventually turning many who could have been rehabilitated into people who have too long of a history of getting everything for free without having to do anything for what they receive in return- making them permanantly into people who now require having everything provided for them- after decades of such a lifestyle what else would one expect to have happen?)

As for addicts, they should not be dealing with the criminal justice system, they should be dealing with the healthcare system. And if they are receiving any type of assistance from government they should be, IMO, required to be participating in rehab from drug addiction. Again, I don’t think it’s a cut and dry one size fits all situation as some are much more severely disadvantaged than others (i.e. people who grew up being molested and raped by their parents, in addition to other traumas and who basically never had a chance because they didn’t have the opportunity to learn basic life skills growing up, on top of the traumas that mess them up that much more). Those individuals should, IMO, be given more leeway in the recovery process than someone who at the age of 23 or so suffered a trauma but up until then had a safe and healthy upbringing and were productive adults until traum hit (such as being active military in wartime or beng raped or similar). In general based on their history of having learned life skills growing up, having love, etc they will have an easier time at rehab than the worst cases so should have tighter restrictions on their recovery while receiving gov’t assistance than the worst cases.

Those are my thoughts based on your post.

Thanks and God Bless,


Thanks very much for this post. It’s a great reminder to me that the answer is to focus on my relationship with God and that through that relationship fruits of God’s will will better materialize than what we presently have.

God Bless,


Could you please expand upon your post? I’m unclear on what you mean and have been sort of assuming that the ‘symptom’ and why people don’t want to work/produce are one in the same (although I would say that I believe that there are people who ‘want’ to work/produce but have different issues that interfere with their ability to follow through. And IMO the gov’t programs in place don’t address this, they stear them away from solving their problems and helping them to work/produce in many cases rather than the other way around.

God Bless,


You raise a great point. It’s also something that I alluded to in my first post in this thread. There can not be a one size fits all approach, and I don’t think that ANY approach will be perfect. But I do think we can do better than we are doing today. The first step I would propose is to shift resources away from the criminal justice system and toward the healthcare system. It’s clear to me that jail doesn’t cure addicts. IMO it harms them, and by extention, all of society. This would be a good start IMO. If this were to happen I beleive as a society we would be making great progress and then be in a better postion to begin to figure out the answer to the excellent point that you raise.

God Bless,

I also think that it’s interesting that about 20 years ago being a drug addict was cause for an individual to be labelled as ‘disabled’, entitling them to social security disability benefits or SSI (basically the same thing except it’s for those without hardly any, if any at all, work history). Obviously, IMO, this was the wrong approach to take for individuals who were drug addicts. And they would obviously spend most of their monthly money on drugs, reinforcing their addiction and doing nothing to help solve it. Most (I’m guessing, I don’t have statistics) of those who had received disability for drug addiction wound up getting their ‘label’ of their disability switched to a mental illness disorder such as major depression. I remember seeing signs at social service places advertizing to people that this change was coming (addicts would no longer quality for disability) and offering assistance to any on disability for drug addiction to change their disability status to a mental health disorder (I’m sure that many did have a major mental illness, but providing money to people with problems without requiring them to do ANYTHING at all to help themselves improve their situation is a major systematic problem with the US gov’t IMO. Give a man a fish, rather than teaching a man to fish if you will…

God Bless,

We have discussed this in detail. Maybe I will post more later because I do enjoy our discussions.

No, I am not saying it is the same for everyone. What I am saying is that regardless of their individual “disease”; provide the basics for them (and every single one of them) until they recover from whatever the “disease” is (which might be a literal disease).

Section 2203 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity.”
As dignity is conferred by Our Lord, we can neither destroy nor preserve it. The initial premise of this thread seems to run contrary to Catholic social teaching as propounded in our catechism.
It might be helpful to reconsider our assumptions/initial premises, before working on prescriptions.
May God bless us all. Amen.