Social Justice Looks Outward

               I saw a ‘wishing tree’ awhile ago, and I was thinking about this sentiment that was hanging on it. It’s a nice idea: love and peace, not war and hate. It’s a nice ideal, even. Something we should hold in the back of our heads as a reason for doing the work. But the work still has to get done, because love alone won’t solve anything. Especially when there are people out there literally claiming the Berlin Wall was a good idea. And not just people, but a professional. On TV. Who influences viewers.

berlin wall

Mind. Boggled.

Love and peace not war and hate is a nice sentiment but it doesn’t do anything.

               Social justice is ideals in action. At its best it is the embodiment of the love and peace sentiment. Just as the walls are the embodiment of fear and division. I’m starting to think of social justice as being a way of affirming people. Social Justice says to people, ‘in this specific sphere of what is important to you, you matter, and tangible things need to change to show you that you matter and to make the world safe for you’.

               Essentially that’s what people are doing when they work for prison reform (or abolition of it), when they organize to #FreeBresha (sign here) or when they take to the streets to protest or classrooms to learn. They are saying ‘this aspect of the world is dangerous to people. Let’s make it better’. At its core, social just is about love and peace.

               And like Heather said on Wednesday, it is a practice (a spiritual discipline, even). It’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of us, because we’re trained in the abstract ways of peace and love that ends with throwing our hands in the air because it’s all just too much. Everything is broken so why even bother, especially when we have our own families to consider.

               So many of us are trained in the way of wall-building. We build walls around our family, around our church community, even our organizations. Our sole focus is on what’s inside and how we can best succeed and thrive.

               But social justice compels us to look outward. To see people who are different, who are at risk, and it asks us to get involved. Achieving justice is not something that ‘just happens’. It takes time, effort, and money. It takes people motivated by love and peace. And it takes a desire to tear down walls instead of building them.

 

Caris Adel

Caris Adel

Writer at Caris Adel
Caris is passionate about justice, history, and how they intertwine (or so often don't, as the case may be). She is pursuing a degree in American Studies and Public History, and while she can often be found with a book in her face and a coffee in hand, she also spends some of her time homeschooling her 5 kids.
Caris Adel

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  • E Bishop Wooten

    I’m fairly new to this whole social justice thing. Sounds progressive and also sounds more in line with Jesus and the Bible than what I’ve seen in the mainline evangelical churches.

    I suddenly realize just how unpopular true Christianity is since we are called to give up everything in service to those around us. Something that may be hard to grasp for someone in the middle class. From what I’ve read, the Bible talks about prospering from hard work but doesn’t speak very favorably of the rich.

  • Kathy Forsyth

    “So many of us are trained in the way of wall-building. We build walls around our family, around our church community, even our organizations. Our sole focus is on what’s inside and how we can best succeed and thrive.” This part of your post talking about walls is so true. We sit in our houses hoping to keep ourselves safe, when Jesus wants us to venture out and interact with people. I recently took cookies to a couple neighbors just to share with them and get to know them better. They were stunned and wanted to know what I wanted for the cookies. One neighbor made bread for me later in the week as if we were not even until she gave something back. Maybe a good place to start is right outside our doors.

  • “But social justice compels us to look outward….And it takes a desire to tear down walls instead of building them.” Yes, it’s so easy to want to build walls around our families. We’ve been taught to fear what is unknown or different. But Jesus showed us another way. We are to be led by love, not fear. Thanks for helping to open our eyes.