What are the biggest things that get in the way of people working towards social justice?

As ‘social justice’ I am NOT defining it as a progressive. I would moreso define it as being kind to one’s neighbor, helping one’s neighbor (singularly or on a larger scale).

The reason I ask is because a recent post made by someone in a thread I started has gotten me thinking. The thread was about ‘giving people a second chance’ and how once someone has a criminal record it’s hard for them to get employment, etc.

A lot of people responded by pointing out the laws around hiring practices (which made perfect sense), and the risks and potential liability of hiring an ex con should that person do harm to another employee or customer. Again, I understand this. The post that stuck out to me, and I have been thinking quite a lot about since I have read it was something to the effect of:

So, if your son, who got out of jail and was trying to straighten up their life came to you and said “Dad, I’m trying to put my life together, can you help me out and give me a job?” or words to that effect/general jist of the post.

This got me thinking how I at least treat my own family differently than I treat my neighbors, in particular if they are strangers to me. Now I think of myself as a good person, and I assume that most posters here think of themselves as good people as well. But that particular post spoke to me. It pointed out how I (and I assume we) are more willing to help our family and give our family chances, etc than we are our neighbors (in the sense that Jesus meant it).

It leaves me to wonder if there is a block of some sort, a wall of some sort I put up when dealing with ‘our neighbors’ and if this wall impacts the way we intervene to help them.

Now I am formerly homeless. I have a lot of childhood trauma that still impacts me. And I work with the mentally ill (I am mentally ill myself in that I have a major mental illness diagnosis) so think of myself as someone who is accustomed to being around those ‘less fortunate’ and potentially being much more aware than the average person what their lives are like, what kind of struggles they face, etc. I believe I do a very good job at my JOB, and am invested in this type of work. But doing my job is not charity. And I’m not sure to what extent it is working towards ‘social justice’ since it is me performing my ‘job’.

So I wonder if I put up a wall (I know certain others do as I see it regularly in obvious ways) when dealing with (or rather trying NOT to deal with) the homeless, etc. But I myself, when driving home from work and see the guys coming with their cup will sometimes avoid eye contact myself. I think this is terrible for me to do given my past. I sometimes interact with them by saying hi and explaining I’m not in a position to help financially (which I really am not, I’m behind on rent, car insurance, car note, etc). I donate to my Church but that’s all I do as far as money goes. I wonder, and will have to try out, speaking more with these guys. They may be more interested in walking by more cars to have a greater chance to get more money. But I have to TRY before I can be sure.

FYI, the ‘telltale sign’ of someone being homeless is someone carrying a backpack. They have no where to store their clothes or basic belongings so all carry backpacks. If they don’t look middle class or above like they are sporting brand new clothes coming from the gym and they are carrying a backpack, good chance they are homeless.

Anyway, is it an attitude of indifference? I don’t think that is the case for me. Is it that seeing the homeless brings back negative memories for me? Sometimes. Is it feeling awkward in telling them that I (honestly) can’t spare 50cents? I think this is partly true but no excuse for me not to say hi and attempt to engage them in conversation, say God bless you, etc.

And when I had more money, a 2nd job and disposable income I was not attending Church and was not donating to any charities either. I still did ‘my job’ but don’t consider this as counting as I have said. So what was it then that got in the way of me helping my neighbor? I think, for myself, I was not raised in a house where this was customary, expected, and taught. When homeless I remember one family (2 parents and 2 teen kids) coming in on Christmas day to serve lunch/dinner to the homeless. This family was obviously instilling in their children the spirit of giving, of helping one’s neighbor. Why didn’t I help more then? I can use the excuse I wasn’t connected to the Church, but I always believed in God and Jesus and the teachings of Jesus, so that is not a valid reason/excuse for me.

Did I not care? I don’t think that’s the case as I spent quite a bit of time debating/attempting to educate people on how government entitlement programs (IMO) do NOT help and create and sustain a system of dependency. So I did invest time in trying to educate others as to what I felt were the wrong ways to help, and advocating what I thought the correct ways were (attaching help be in financial, housing, whatever- to the requirement that the recipients in some way put forth effort to help themselves- and ideally and depending on how much help they are getting and what their capabilities are- requiring them to help another or do community service.

So I cared, but I didn’t peel money out of my pocket and either give directly or donate to charity. And I am not sure why. I would be interested in hearing mostly ideas as to why others think I didn’t do more to help when I was in the position to (I never had much money but could afford to go out and eat, had all my bills paid, had money in my pocket at all times, didn’t worry about my bills, was saving toward retirement).

If you have thoughts or stories in general as to why people don’t help more please share, or personal stories or thoughts personally. But mostly I’m interested in learning for myself, to make myself a better follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

God Bless,
Bill

The answer to your question is quite simple: The biggest thing that gets in the way of those working for social justice is personal and collective selfishness. This translates into political obstruction.

Probably Obamanomics has been the most harmful and destructive thing to happen to the middle class since FDR. A record number have dropped from middle class to poor. We have record americans in poverty, record food stamps usage, record welfare users, record debt, a real debacle.

How do we help people? A prosperous economy that includes low energy costs, plentiful jobs, low inflation, economic growth. None of this exists in Obamanomics., wealth redistribution has never once made any country prosper but it has put them in economic disaster such as Greece.

Well, one big difference is that you know your son, and the guy who runs a business down the street doesn’t. It may not be a matter of helping those in our own families more, but simply knowing them better.

For example, if a locksmith gets caught burglarizing because of his skills–he can never work as a locksmith again. Few would hire a convicted embezzler to keep their books. And so on… so it makes it hard for someone who has been convicted to get a job.

And we also are each limited in how much we can do. A business can only hire so many people. Right now, vets have double the unemployment of the general population–these are men and women who risked their lives for us, and they have that much unemployment–why?

So it’s kind of tough, because fewer people are trying to achieve social justice than are needed. But our lifestyles are not suited to it either–used to be that the husband would work, the children would go to school, and the wives often were involved on way or another in the community. They had the time to check on neighbors or volunteer at the hospital. Now I see elderly people having to work at WalMart.

…Did I not care? I don’t think that’s the case as I spent quite a bit of time debating/attempting to educate people on how government entitlement programs (IMO) do NOT help and create and sustain a system of dependency. So I did invest time in trying to educate others as to what I felt were the wrong ways to help, and advocating what I thought the correct ways were (attaching help be in financial, housing, whatever- to the requirement that the recipients in some way put forth effort to help themselves- and ideally and depending on how much help they are getting and what their capabilities are- requiring them to help another or do community service.

So I cared, but I didn’t peel money out of my pocket and either give directly or donate to charity. And I am not sure why. I would be interested in hearing mostly ideas as to why others think I didn’t do more to help when I was in the position to (I never had much money but could afford to go out and eat, had all my bills paid, had money in my pocket at all times, didn’t worry about my bills, was saving toward retirement).

If you have thoughts or stories in general as to why people don’t help more please share, or personal stories or thoughts personally. But mostly I’m interested in learning for myself, to make myself a better follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

God Bless,
Bill

I think it is easier for us to do some things than others. I think it is easier for us to talk with others about the issues or sign petitions or join a protest group than it is for us to *give up some of our own resources, *which of course are not our own but given to us by God. We think of our time and our earned money as *ours, *not God-given. (I struggle with this, which may be why I think it is the problem, iyswim.)

As an example, someone could not buy a coffee at a shop on the way to work but instead make coffee at home, then have had some extra money to give to the poor. But one feels entitled to the good coffee-shop coffee, one works hard, after all. One would have to get up earlier to make the coffee. Etc. And yet one could give $10/week or more by this simple sacrifice.

Or one could give up an evening to volunteer teaching someone to read, help at a homeless shelter, or helping elderly neighbors. But again, one works hard so one deserves to kick back afterwards…

I hear you, and essentially agree with you. What do you think of ways to go about making changes in this, even small changes, to be more willing to help.

The coffee example you gave (I happen to make my own for financial reasons of necessity plus drinking it quickly the moment my alarm goes off gets me to work early) could save 50 a month or 600/yr to donate to a charity.

I have counseling skills I could pu to use volunteering on a Sat or Sun at a family shelter or a shelter for teens or a jail for teens or whatever. Those things would be more my niche and financially I am really, really struggling right now…but it’s the attitude I am seeking to address, and hopefully change. As one man can’t do a lot but a thousand men, or 10 or 100 thousand all doing a little more can make a huge difference. I would like to be a tiny part of that difference being made.

Or maybe via telephone and letters and email I could establish a relationship with one or more homes for orphans in Brazil (where I plan to retire) to get to know them and them get to know me and visit and volunteer when I am in a position to vacation there and as a way to set up a working relationship with them to volunteer there when I retire.

Something. Everyone, even me who is pretty poor, can do something…even if it’s making plans to do something in the future. But I feel something is blocking me (and think something blocks others as well) and would like to figure out what those things are so that I can address them in my life, and maybe some others might also address them in their life if that is of interest to them and they have a block like me and would like to do more like me.

God Bless,
Bill

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

  • Blessed Mother Teresa

This is the biggest barrier to social justice. Too often, we look towards feeding the poor the bread instead of letting love flow through us to feed their hunger for love. The poor come in every social economic class (rich, middle-class, & poor); as the poor are the ones yearning for Gods love to heal their wounds. It is when we have seen the divine physician and allowed the healing to convert us deeper into his love that we can let His love flow through us to cure the hunger of love in those around us.

  1. We think the money belongs to us.

The ability to work and acquire stuff is a huge grace and gift. None of it is ours, it all belongs to God.

  1. No one thinks they have enough stuff and everyone thinks their stuff isn’t enough… Our profit-motivated culture convinces us of this: there’s more we need… if I had more I’d do something… build a homeless shelter or something… but, the car’s going to need brakes soon and I really need to get some new (fill in blank) … and my vacation’s coming up…

  2. It’s not my job and the people who should do it are failing… why doesn’t the government do something!?

  3. Us and them. They aren’t part of us. The homeless are a problem, not a person who has no home. And another person who has no home. And another… and they aren’t like me because if they were that would mean I could be homeless and… my mind won’t even go there… so I have to keep them in a box in my head labelled “Homeless - someone should fix that.”

What huge grace for you to have been homeless. And now you are protected from judging those with means who don’t do more to help because you know your own past. A great blessing.

God bless you abundantly in your work and life.

Well, first of all, “planning to do something in the future” is not “doing something.” Doing something happens in the present, and planning is just wishing until one does something towards the thing planned, so planning for the future doesn’t let someone off the hook for *today. *

And I find in my life that focusing a lot on “planning for the future” definitely means I am living in a fantasy world where I have no business being (and this is a big problem for me!). For me, it is easy to imagine myself being virtuous, but it is not a real virtue, and I am not even developing true virtue.

I can use my imagination properly, as St Francis de Sales suggests, to figure out and “practice” for a realistically potential event: ie, my neighbor is always rude to me and I am always very curt back, but I see that this is not pleasing to God, so I use my imagination to “practice” responding in a kindly way. This is not developing virtue; what develops virtue is *actually doing it. *

So, what holds us back? The answer varies but for many of us it is laziness or fear; an unwillingness to step out of our established routines, to make the sacrifices necessary to have the resources to do it.

GK Chesterton makes an interesting point in chapter 19 of his book *Heretics: *We are always ready to make a saint or prophet of the educated man who goes into cottages to give a little kindly advice to the uneducated. But the medieval idea of a saint or prophet was something quite different. The mediaeval saint or prophet was an uneducated man who walked into grand houses to give a little kindly advice to the educated.

I’'m not sure what you mean by being protected from judging those with means who don’t do more, but overall I liked your post a lot and it makes a lot of sense. Everyone thinks the money belongs to them and they never have enough so are always putting off helping others… makes perfect sense to me.

Well you and I differ here. I see planning as one of the 5 stages of change. The next stage being action. ONe must go through the planning state to get to the action stage. And I don’t know about your financial position but I am behind on all my bills, my rent, my car note, my car insurance, electricity, etc… so maybe we are in different positions where I am more preoccupied in the present with keeping me and my familes head above water than you are. Then again, maybe not. I"m doing the best I can to keep myself afloat and not loose my job at present. So I don’t think it’s a bad thing for me to think about ways I might be able to assist others in the future (in addtion to working full time at poverty wages to help the needy).

God Bless,
Bill

  1. It’s not my job and the people who should do it are failing… why doesn’t the government do something!?

Same exact thing could be said about the abortion issue :rolleyes:

You’re correct that planning and preparation must usually precede effective change. And I’m not certain it is true that resolving to practice a virtue and rehearsing that virtue mentally or privately don’t carry with them some measure of merit or grace. Internal dispositions count in the Christian faith so much as outward actions. If my neighbor takes perverse joy in aggravating me, and happens to be clever in provoking negative reactions out of me despite my firm resolutions and best efforts–some grace, I think rebounds for the effort, though of course one should ever strive to do better as time might progress.

And the same argument every non Catholic could use against Catholics.

I really don’t understand what you mean here. I’m a little bit stupid around some things.

It’s all dependent on the direction the GIANT pendulum is swinging! I’m optimistic that we will have global social justice in due time.

In Christian theology, the intention to do well carries a measure of grace even if one falls short in actually carrying out the intention. Teenagers, especially, struggle with the virtue of chastity and sin. Catholic teens confess those sins and make a firm purpose to sin no more and to avoid near occasions of sin–only to confess repeating those same sins once more upon their next confession. There is grace in the firm purpose to sin no more even though that purpose failed to be achieved. Each time the penitent makes a sincere effort to struggle against sin, even if they fall short in overcoming it, a little grace abounds to strengthen them against the next time they are tempted. Hope this helps.

flameburns623,

Yes it does. And thank you for taking the time to explain it to me.

God Bless,
Bill

Maybe I’m, what’s the word, projecting :o I have found that I can plan all day long, all week long! But still not accomplish anything. The *planning *is not *doing. *It is indeed a necessary prerequisite, but we can’t put it in the column of having accomplished something which *causes *a growth in holiness, other than not spending that time envying people or complaining, etc.

And I totally understand your situation–the economic difficulties have hit our household as well. It may be that the only thing you are able to do right now is to pray and be good to your family–and the family is a place where we can grow in virtue!!! I’m just saying that planning for the future is often *seen as *doing something when it actually isn’t, so people who are planning to do something in the future miss the opportunities to grow which are right with them that day.

I was just addressing your feeling of “being blocked,” which I took as an internal problem rather than external. There have been times when I wanted to do more, but simply did not have the resources (time, money, energy) to do so. Those with small children are simply at a point where they need to practice virtue at home, giving food to the hungry by feeding their little ones, etc. *And that’s ok. *In fact, that’s what God wants us to do at that time!

Yes, the effort does count. My point was planning *without making the effort *doesn’t count.

Maybe when I’m able to pay my rent on time, pay my car note on time, my car insurance, my utilities…and buy all my own food at the grocery store rather than relying on food pantries to get by I will be in a better postion to do more for others.

As it stands I work full time with the mentally ill, a job that many probably couldn’t stand doing, and don’t get paid much for what I do.

So I feel comfortable doing my best to take care of my family and giving money to my Church (and being kind/polite to my neighbors) at this point. I really don’t think I’m capable of doing more right now, and the things that are at the top of my to do list are additional things I must do to better my family.

Hope that makes sense and clears up my situation for anyone who was wondering.

God Bless,
Bill

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